New Zealand should move towards decriminalising cannabis over time, Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne says.
Mr Dunne said he wanted the country to follow Portugal's model, where the drug was legalised and regulated.
The first step would be to treat possession of low levels of cannabis as a health issue, rather than a crime, he said.
The next step would be to test the drug and allow it to be sold, but to regulate its sale.
"If you moved to a regulated market, and that would be some years away at the very least, then you would have a better control of it.
"But you would also have...control of the production and distribution of it, which would mean taking it away from the gangs," Mr Dunne said.