Hāpai Te Hauora CEO, Selah Hart says “The status quo has adversely impacted our people, and if the referendum is successful, things will change in ways which will likely have more of a proportional impact on Māori than anyone else. We know that Māori are over-represented in the justice system. We are more likely to be charged, more likely to be convicted, and more likely to be imprisoned for the same offence as a non-Māori. We know that recent years show that Māori are more than 3 times more likely than non-Māori to go to prison for low-level drug offences. We also know that for many whānau Māori, seeking help is not an option, because fear of conviction is a reality. So it’s really important that Māori are supported to be informed and to vote in this referendum.”
She says “We recognise that the cannabis conversation is complex. Whilst it is a health issue, it is also a justice issue, an education issue, an economics issue and a civics issue all at once. This bill does well to address many of the inequities caused by the current illegal market, and with some minor tweaks, it would go a long way to remedy the multiple facets of cannabis related harm in NZ.”
Hāpai Te Hauora supports the inclusion of equity parameters in the legislation, specifically those which specify partnership with communities impacted by cannabis harm, and the inclusion of capacity development and employment goals for Māori in the proposed cannabis marketplace.