[ Skip to main content ]

In research released by The Helen Clark Foundation today, 69% of voters wanted cannabis to be decriminalised (20%) or legalised (49%). Only 30% of respondents thought our cannabis laws should stay the same or get tougher.

NZ Drug Foundation Executive Director Sarah Helm said: “The research released today shows the public is overwhelmingly dissatisfied with the status quo, with the vast majority of voters wanting either legalisation or decriminalisation of cannabis. While the referendum proposal on a specific approach to legalisation was narrowly voted down last year, 39% of those who voted against it in the referendum actually want cannabis decriminalised.”

“We continue to see thousands of New Zealanders convicted of low-level cannabis offences, even though it is clear from the research that very few of us believe that Kiwis should be being criminalised for these. The evidence shows that cannabis convictions do absolutely nothing whatsoever to deter use . Given how ineffective our punitive approach to cannabis is, we are currently doing very little to reduce cannabis harm as a country.”

“Young people, Maori and men bear the burden of cannabis convictions. And while the Police and Ministers are committed to trying to improve the situation, people continue to face convictions.”

“We also have an untenable situation with 1000s of patients who cannot access medicinal cannabis products. Many of these are falling foul of the law by making their own products or purchasing on the black market, which decriminalisation would go some way to addressing.”

“We applaud the government’s shift towards a health-based approach to drugs, yet there is more to be done.”

“A health-based approach requires interventions to support people with harmful drug use, and a shift away from relying on ineffective punitive tools. That means decriminalising cannabis use and funding a range of health interventions and services.”

“At the moment, unless someone has an addiction, there is very little in the way of support, advice, guidance or information for illicit drug use.”

“There is a global shift away from the so-called ‘war on drugs’ gathering pace in places like the USA and Canada. Evidence has shown that where decriminalisation of drug use and a raft of health interventions have been put in place, such as in Portugal, harmful drug use has declined, including among young people. In Canada, which legalised cannabis in October 2018, use by young people has gone down and rates for regular daily adult use have remained unchanged.”

“New Zealand law relies on Police discretion to decide whether a person should be convicted of a low-level drug offence or not. We are grateful to hear the Minister of Health and Minister of Police are undertaking further investigation into this, because it isn’t working. We ask that it not be left to discretion and for a health-based approach to be taken.”



Share:

Related See more

Michael Baker

Michael Baker: Putting to rest Richard Nixon's failed war on drugs

Newly-appointed board member Prof Michael Baker calls for an end to Nixon's war on drugs, in favour of a scientific and evidence-based appro...

Nixon's war is not our war

[Video] Fifty years ago, Richard Nixon announced his intention to wage an all-out war on drugs - and NZ soon followed. It's time for a bette...

Gower is right

Following Patrick Gower’s documentary On P, we call on the government to fund the roll out of the successful Te Ara Oranga programme.

MoS april 2021 johann hari billie holiday thumbnail

Johann Hari on his film about Billie Holiday and the war on drugs

On the eve of the NZ release of The US vs Billie Holiday, Russell Brown talks to Johann Hari about the movie, compassionate drug policy, & w...

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

social graphic subscribe

Subscribe to email updates

Get regular news, analysis and commentary on drug issues in New Zealand. Free.

Sign up now!

Back to top