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Kākahungia te tangata ki te aroha, kaua ki te whakawhiu
Our people need a cloak of support and care, not punishment and stigma

More than for any other group, drug law reform is a big issue for tangata whenua. Most Māori have seen the human cost of our bad drug law first-hand and it’s a sad truth that the people most harmed by prohibition are Māori, young and male.

A cannabis conviction is extremely damaging. It can set a young person back for life – and for what?  Not only is a criminal justice approach actively harmful but prohibition doesn’t address any of the health concerns that whānau raise with us about rangatahi using cannabis. In fact, it has made health outcomes worse by creating stigma and making it harder for those who need it to access treatment.

This needs to change. Drug law reform should be about true and enduring justice for the people who are the survivors of the war on drugs. In Aotearoa that means ensuring that Māori voices, and solutions, are at the forefront of conversations about drug law reform. That's going to be especially important as we head towards the cannabis referendum at the 2020 election. 

This statement draws on the expertise of more than 50 Māori leaders, in a call to action to ensure that Māori outcomes are improved if cannabis is legalised after the 2020 referendum.

Kaupapa Māori statement on draft cannabis law Nov 2019 ( PDF 195kb )

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