YES or NO to cannabis?
Do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill?
The coalition Government says the proposed bill seeks to control and regulate cannabis and reduce the harm to communities caused by drugs – but not everyone agrees. Our reporter Johnson Raela takes a look at the arguments from both sides of the fence.
Former police officer Nick Tuitasi, now working for Family First New Zealand, is a strong advocate against the bill and believes Pasifika people are not informed enough about what they’re voting for.
“Our families are struggling. We have two families living in a three-bedroom state house, those trying to put food on the table… They’re going, ‘Really? I’m just trying to keep my head above water. I don’t have time to think about those things,'” says Tuitasi.
Family First and the Say Nope to Dope campaign are working hard to try and convince the public to vote no. Tuitasi’s views are informed by his 25 years in the police force, where he’s seen first hand the devastating effects of cannabis on young people.
“I worked with young gangsters, the Bloods and the Crips at the time, and I noticed what the impact of cannabis had on their lives, and when parents brought their kids to me saying, ‘Oh you know, he steal from the grandmother,’ the first thing I’d find out was that they had an addiction.”
However, ‘Simba’, from the pro-cannabis group Kakariki, believes one of the positive impacts of legalising cannabis will be the effect it will have on the black market and creating safer, legal access to the drug.
“People don’t like talking about cannabis because it’s against the law. Once it becomes legal, it’ll become less stigmatised, less damage on the individual, and again, it just takes it out of the shadows. It’s just something that we can control, regulate and tax,” says Simba.
He also argues the bill will have a positive effect on the criminal justice system, which already negatively impacts Māori and Pasifika people.
“You’re three times more likely to be convicted of cannabis if you are Māori. This shows us that not only are these laws wrong, but they’re not working. 70,000 people break these laws every single day here in New Zealand.”
Watch the full story above.