Stuff co.nz 2 June 2020
A former police investigator is among a number of high-profile New Zealanders encouraging the country to vote Yes in the upcoming cannabis referendum.
The New Zealand Drug Foundation’s “Our Own Terms” campaign features Tim McKinnel, an investigator who helped prove Teina Pora’s innocence, alongside former Prime Minister Helen Clark, psychiatrist Hinemoa Elder and educator Richie Hardcore, among others.
“The system as it is now is a free-for-all, it’s unregulated and uncontrolled and forces people to dip their toes into the black market,” said McKinnel, who spent several years on the police drug squad.
“Police spend a great deal of time and money fighting cannabis, with helicopter recovery operations, or with uncovering underground growing operations. It’s a drain not only on policy but on our courts and prisons.”
He is supporting the Yes campaign because it will allow for stricter regulations.
“The Bill we are voting on is the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill. People tend to forget about the control part.”
The campaign is pushing a number of different arguments aimed to persuade undecided voters.
The foundation sees arguments around freeing up police time, increasing tax revenues, and improving access for medicinal cannabis users as some of the stronger motivators for undecided voters.
“We’re taking a positive approach, not trying to stoke fear,” Drug Foundation chief executive Ross Bell said.
“We want to highlight that the Bill is designed for New Zealand, it’s different from what we’ve seen overseas, like in Colorado for example, and it takes a much stricter approach.
“Under this Bill, the Government takes control over the cannabis market, from seed to sale. We encourage all New Zealanders to read the Cannabis Control Bill and see for themselves. This is about putting sensible controls around an existing market, and it will mean a net gain for public health.”
Hinemoa Elder said she was supporting the campaign for moral reasons.
“As a doctor I cannot ethically support the status quo at this time. Frankly, it’s a mess, for all sorts of reasons,” she said.
She said arguments that cannabis users were more likely to develop mental illnesses were not accurate, and the greater impact on users came from legal repercussions.
“In my practice, what I see is when young people get cannabis convictions they tend to have further restrictions put on their education and their life in the long term.”
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/300025476/former-pm-police-investigator-among-kiwis-backing-cannabis-legalisation-campaign