[ Skip to main content ]

This year’s cannabis referendum is one of the most significant opportunities we’ve ever had to address a range of social issues that impact Māori communities. Campaign Manager Renee Shingles explains why the 2020 referendum is so important.

Legalising cannabis will allow us to treat it as a public health issue instead of a criminal one. The harm caused by prohibition, particularly to Māori communities, can last a lifetime and in some cases spans generations. However, research we commissioned in November 2019 told us the majority of New Zealanders still don’t see legalisation as a top concern.

That’s not surprising – prohibition has allowed this issue to remain in the shadows, confined to communities that are more likely to be punished than supported.

We see this referendum as an important opportunity. It gives us permission to talk about something that has previously remained in the dark. It allows us to step away from the politicking that usually surrounds this topic and begin having informed conversations. But most importantly, it allows us to vote on an issue – not a political party – that we know needs a solution, without the political narrative that so often hijacks this subject.

We know that Māori are more impacted by prohibition than other communities, however according to Stats and Elections NZ* only 53.83% of Māori are enrolled to vote.

Younger voters (18-29) have the lowest rate of enrolment, at only 43.43%. However, our research tells us this group believes more strongly than any other that this issue is personally relevant and important to them, and would motivate them to get out and vote.

All of which means that this issue has the potential to re-engage many previously disenfranchised voters, such as younger voters, with the democratic process.

This referendum provides an opportunity to fix some of the most broken parts of our public health and justice system. But we need to make sure that those communities who are most affected actually get out and vote – particularly the younger generation. It’s the only sure way of creating a future that supports and works for them, instead of against them.

Share:

Related See more

ASA rules in Drug Foundation’s favour on cannabis referendum campaign

Decision regarding complaints received about our ‘Vote Yes On Our Terms’ cannabis referendum campaign ads welcomed.

Cannabis referendum: the case for a ‘YES’ vote, Live chat #5

The fifth Live chat will cover the health, social justice and criminal justice impacts of legalisation. Along with an overview of what’s pro...

Legal cannabis and workplaces: what's on the cards?

What should be employers be thinking about in preparation for a yes vote in the referendum?

MoS nov 2019 thumbnail on weed

No is a vote to maintain Aotearoa’s status quo

Some say cannabis law is a tool of race and class oppression. At the same time, many people with terminal illness or chronic pain have found...

DYK stock guys 260x260px

Did You Know

Conversation tools for parents, caregivers and youth workers to help your young person make safer decisions about drugs

Learn more

Footer Banner 260x260

It's time to control cannabis

There are many good reasons to Vote Yes in the cannabis control referendum. Find out why.

Learn more

Back to top