Start the conversation
Learn how to have a convincing conversation about the benefits of making cannabis legal.
How to have a convincing conversation about making cannabis legal.
Know your subject. Unless you’re already an expert, have a good read about the bill and our FAQs on this website. Then pick your moment. Often the best time for a conversation is while doing an activity, like a walk around the park or over a game of golf.
Remember to listen too. It’s much easier to be convincing if you know where someone is coming from. They’ll no doubt have good reasons for whatever they already think about cannabis.
Focus on values
Work out which values are important to you both. For example, most people are keen to see New Zealanders healthier, and to protect young people from damaging themselves. And most people see themselves as compassionate, and are keen to do what works.
Build on those values to explain your point of view: “Minimising the harm that cannabis can cause is important to me too. And from what I’ve learned, regulating cannabis is the best way to stop some of the worst harms that cannabis can cause…”
Remember that things are rarely black and white. You might share similar values – for example that we need to protect young people – but disagree on the solution. But you can talk through law reform options that address their concerns.
Keep it light
Keep calm and polite – always. If you end up red-faced, chances are that you won’t be having the convincing effect you were going for! So explore ideas together rather than telling people what they should think.
Remember – it’s okay to not agree on everything. You’re mostly trying to get across that health-focused cannabis regulations can help reduce harm and protect people.
Choosing arguments that are convincing
Every conversation will be a bit different. But based on our experience, some messages are more convincing than others.
Talking about wanting laws based on compassion
Focusing on promoting health
Wanting to reduce drug harm
Reducing the number of convictions
Not so convincing
Talking about individual freedoms
Saying cannabis isn’t harmful (because it does cause harm to some people)
Saying cannabis is good for you (medicinal cannabis is a different conversation)
The most important message is that regulating a potentially harmful drug is the best way to keep people safe.
Keeping cannabis in the black market means we have no control over potency, packaging or purchase age. New Zealand tightly regulates other stuff that can be dangerous – like sky-diving and hazardous chemicals. Cannabis shouldn’t be any different.
Finally, people are more likely to care about the referendum if they know why it’s important. If you can, refer to personal stories or facts about the people who have been harmed by our current drug laws.