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The way New Zealand responds to drugs is not keeping up with a changing world. A move to treating drug use as a health issue rather than a criminal one is long overdue. In July 2017 the Drug Foundation released Whakawātea te Huarahi, a bold roadmap for drug law reform in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The model drug law is based on evidence and research from New Zealand and around the world about the best way to reduce the harms caused by both drugs and our current drug law.

‘Whakawātea’ means to clear, free up, cleanse or purify spiritually, while ‘huarahi’ is a pathway, road or track. The title of our model drug law is intended to signify a fresh start for the debate on drug policy and a sense of movement towards a better future.

Our model drug law proposes:

  • Removing criminal penalties for the possession, use and social supply of all drugs
  • Developing a strictly regulated cannabis market
  • Putting more resources into prevention, education and treatment.

The current laws prevent people accessing help when they need it, and they leave thousands every year with a conviction that impacts on employment, relationships and travel. Implementing the model drug law will minimise the harms caused by drug use, while promoting human rights and improving equity for Māori. 

The document is intended to be a conversation starter. We'd love to know what you think - share your feedback.

Download Whakawātea te Huarahi 

Watch an introduction to Whakawātea te Huarahi

This 30 minute talk by Kali Mercier, Principal Policy Adviser, presents Whakawātea te Huarahi: A model drug law to 2020 and beyond. Recorded 5 July 2017.

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