I just watch a current affairs TV show; issues around the upcoming ‘Reeferendum’ on cannabis, relating to indigenous maori communities.
At the start they had a quick ‘which way are we voting ?’ (the panel). I was pleased to see that 3 out of 4 said “YES”.. one Lawyer & another a ‘Tikanga’ (traditional knowledge/practice) expert
These are some issues raised & discussed (paraphrased):
1) “We all tried it back in the day, Prohibition was effectively ignored by most”
>estimate are: >80% of NZers have tried it & about 20% use it regularly
2) Maori are much more likely to be arrested for cannabis, than non-maori (police bias). Some estimates are about 3:1. Police often target cars with young maori & if nothing else they say ‘Is that Weed/MJ I smell’
3) The Govt. bill is about ‘Legalisation & Control‘ NOT open slather use by anyone. That has been the actual outcome of prohibition, with a totally unregulated Black-market. The bill proposes R20 on legal use. The focus can move to preventing use by youth & education
4) Having a conviction, even for minor cannabis possession, has often prevented ‘offenders’, gaining employment. Under a regulated scheme, there will be legal jobs in the Cannabis industry. In the East Cape area, there are already legal jobs in the hemp & medicinal cannabis areas (Hikurangi)
5) There has been a massive cost to maintaining Prohibition. This can be redirected to; education, Health care etc.
6) Under Prohibition, there has been very little research, into actual effects of cannabis. Much of the information, is actually ‘Misinformation’ based on outdated Fear-mongering & prejudice etc.
7) Overseas data (in countries where it is now legal: Canada etc.) shows an initial spike in use; novelty factor, but it soon levels off. They are finding ‘the boomers’ (>50 yrs) are either trying it or going back to it; not used since 1970s ?
8) Concerns around problem use, can be resolved if it is Regulated. Data shows that about 80% of users have NO problems around their use. Why prevent everyone, because a minority, do have these issues ?
>Address the problems, not Zero-tolerance
9) keeping it illegal, has stopped funding of Health care & often stops people seeking help, when they need it; fear of arrest/prosecution
10) Naughty youth use ‘the weed’ to rebel against ‘authority’. If it is legal/regulated this is far less likely
11) ‘we already have problems with alcohol & tobacco… why add to it with cannabis/MJ ?’
>Evidence from overseas, shows that this is not true. In fact alcohol is more harmful in Maori & non-maori communities
12) ‘We need to shine a light on the issues.. STOP avoiding them’
13) ‘Is cannabis a gateway drug ?’ (often claimed)
>There is little evidence of this, it is the blackmarket who supply other drugs to users. Rarely do people use cannabis, then feel the need to move onto Meth etc. The use of ‘Synthetics’ has mainly been down to availability; natural cannabis runs short & the dealers say ‘I can get you something else.. try this instead‘
14) Legalisation & Control, can only lead to positive outcomes.. Informed Choices, justice/economic benefits/healthcare/education rather than Zero-tolerance & Prohibition
15) Will there be expungement of past conviction ?
>Not actually in the bill, but will likely flow from it, IF the referendum passes & we get a law change; just as occurred with LGBT reforms
*At the end of the korero/talk the lady who said, she would likely vote ‘no’ then said that she was now more likely to change her vote.. to big smiles from the others ! 🙂
** YES we need to move past all the misinfo., Fear-mongering & plain B-S, that has dominated this debate for decades. It is really starting sound like, the time for Cannabis reform is finally coming to Aotearoa/NZ.. as has already happened, in many other OECD countries
SO… “Vote YES on 19/9/20 !”