Activists, people and politicians have argued the legal framework will create opportunity where once there was only despair.
“I hope to see our people thriving on their land not behind bars for the use of Cannabis,” says Anituhia McDonald, Member of the Aotearoa Legalize Cannabis Party and Candidate for Te Tai Tonga.
“Obviously there is a high rate of Māori using Cannabis or they seem to be the only ones getting caught. The legalization will reduce these number and give them opportunity to start a business that is legal.”
Indigenous Maori people have been struggling under the old system for decades and remain over-represented in the criminal justice system for cannabis crimes.
Cannabis has had a strong and colorful past in NZ with historical figures such as Saint Suzanne Auburt arriving in NZ in 1860 and providing home grown cannabis remedies whilst taking care of orphans and the sick, and The New Zealand Family Herb Doctor, published in 1889, recommended cannabis as a treatment for asthma, neuralgia, and spasmodic coughing, among other maladies.
Now in 2020 New Zealand has a chance to vote on a truly progressive recreational cannabis framework and significantly influence the rapidly evolving global cannabis community.
New Zealand parliament has suggested a recreational / adult-use legal framework that allows convenient access to flowers and extracts, is conducive to reasonable pricing and fair business competition. The proposal will also encourage safe consumption and provides solutions for many of the unanswered issues with existing international ‘legal’ cannabis industries.
Anituhia reinforced this potential, stating “I believe the referendum has definitely brought awareness to Cannabis and its users. I feel being Māori this referendum brings us an opportunity to connect back to our lands learn our whakakpapa tikanga and reo. Bring money back into the hands of our communities.”
“This whakatauaki speaks of empowerment resilience and hope. With ones ability to use the skills and resources they have to create success. Its about being responsible and development and growth.
I orea te tuatara ka patu ki waho.
A problem is solved by continuing to find solutions.”
Spark The Vote
The New Zealand Referendum to implement this framework (although technically non-binding) will finish on October 17th 2020.
On my 2019 Churchill Fellowship for cannabis research, I was fortunate to visit 10 countries with varying legal cannabis systems and have experienced the challenges associated with various state approaches in the USA.
I’ve seen the absolute shitshow that is cannabis legalization in Canada: Lack of retail sites, impossible challenges for growers, ignorance and vilification of the existing grassroots cannabis and BC bud collectives. But even this misstep was a great leap forward in the fight to end prohibition worldwide.
The Netherlands (Amsterdam) and Spain proposed unique solutions with coffeeshops and social clubs respectively; but their cannabis “magically falls from the sky” in all of these venues. Quality control is non-existent. Evidently personal cannabis consumption is not safely addressed anywhere in Europe.
You can find more of these issues in my Churchill Fellowship Report, but the crux remains – no one has gotten it right, or appropriately addressed the influence of human rights and indigenous prosecution.
(Don’t even get me started on the rubbish Australian cannabis systems…. )
For the sake of the New Zealand people, our cannabis community and our future economic development, make sure your Kiwi mates get into the polls and select YES for cannabis in Aotearoa.