Cannabis will not be legalised on Paula Bennett's watch.
The Police Minister said she was concerned about the growing synthetic drug problem, particularly for west and south Auckland, but said "liberalising cannabis" was not the solution.
"I think there are real concerns about the message that sends to our young people," she said.
Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said that was a "weak statement".
He said 80 per cent of young people in New Zealand had already tried cannabis.
"Whatever message they have sent, no one's listening."
Bell said it was time cannabis was regulated, but the minister and Upper Harbour MP said the drug was dangerous for young people.
"And we wouldn't want to make access easier for them."
Bell agreed cannabis had harmful effects for young people, however, he said if the drug was regulated the Government would be able to control who could grow, buy and sell it.
"I know it goes against the grain, but actually legalising cannabis will protect young people."
Bell said the country needed drug law reform because the Government was relying on 1970s thinking to address a 21st century problem.
Bennett said she had "some sympathy for the arguments", but it was not a solution to the synthetic drug problem. A clampdown on synthetics would continue, she said.
She said there were a number of police operations underway to "crackdown" on the suppliers and manufacturers of the drug.
As of August 18, a number of nationwide drugs busts had uncovered enough chemicals to manufacture 150 kilograms of synthetic drugs, with a street value of $1.5 million.
A number of properties in west Auckland, including Henderson, Glen Eden and Avondale, had been searched by police and a number of arrests made.
But Bell said weeks out from the election the community wanted to hear "something different".
"There will always be people supplying as long as there is demand."
Bennett said suppliers of the "cheap drug" were targeting those on living on the streets and the younger population.
"I think it hits our poorer people more because it's cheaper and that they are being completely taken advantage of and in some cases getting very, very ill and even dying."
She said she was in favour of providing synthetics users rehabilitation and mental health support.
However, Bell said the Government had invested little on the demand-side.
According to the The New Zealand Drug Harm Index 2016, the Government spent $273 million on drug intervention via police and courts, whereas $78 million had been spent on health intervention.
Bell said instead of "grandstanding" on the crackdown on the supply, it was time the Government started spending more on health and prevention programmes for users.
He also said currently synthetic drugs laced with various chemicals were currently classed as "unapproved product". He said based on the effect they had on users the Government should consider making them Class A drugs.
Police said there have been at least 10 deaths linked with synthetic drug use in Auckland in the month to August 1.
But Bennett said the Government was not looking at changing the classification. She said the problem was the price of the base substances, and the fact that synthetic drugs could be manufactured easily.
Bennett also commented on other issues affecting west Auckland.
She said an upgrade of the Henderson Police Station was on the to do list, but some others that looked much "sadder" would have to take priority.
The minister said a facelift for the 30-year-old police station, which was one of two 24-hour police stations in Auckland, was important but "it wouldn't be number one on the list for police".
Bennett said she acknoweldged Henderson Police Station was busy, but she could not give a timeline on when the upgrade would take place.
She also said tax on cigarettes would not be lowered in the face of a number of attacks on dairies and gas stations across Auckland.
"There is actually no evidence that the tax hike in cigarette prices has increased robberies at dairies."
She said a number dairy robberies were carried out by youth offenders and were not planned in advance.
Bennett said the offenders sometimes did not target cigarettes.
"They'll use any weapon they get their hands on, including rocks.They also tend to take whatever they can, which is sometimes just chips and lollies."
She said the Government had created a fund for dairies and small independent shops to have greater security measures.
Bennett said the youth justice system worked for the most part, but a small number of cases needed a different response.