SAM-NZ (Smart Approaches To Marijuana NZ) – Position Statement

By June 7, 2020 Recent News


Evidence shows that marijuana – which has skyrocketed in average potency over the past decades – is addictive and harmful to the human brain, especially when used by adolescents. In US states that have already legalised the drug, there has been an increase in drugged driving crashesyouth marijuana use, and costs that far outweigh tax revenues from marijuana. These states have seen a black market that continues to thrive, sustained marijuana arrest rates, and tobacco company investment in marijuana. It plays a significant role in domestic violence, crime, accidents, mental disorders and lost productivity.

The referendum proposed by the Government on the legalisation of marijuana / cannabis will therefore be a watershed moment for the health and well-being of all New Zealanders.

Legalising the drug would in effect legitimise and increase its use in New Zealand. Regulations and the educative approach have failed to prevent the abuse of alcohol in this country with all of us having to suffer its adverse consequences in road accidents, violence and anti-social behaviour.

When education and regulation fail, the legal status of the drug is the only bottom line to prevent its wholesale adoption with all of the negative consequences for us as a nation.

The SayNopeToDope Campaign is an alliance of community organisations and leaders (including ex-addicts, educators, ex-police, addiction counsellors, health professionals, lawyers, public policy researchers, Maori leaders, Pasifika leaders, educators, and community workers – plus some famous & loved sportspeople including Eroni Clarke, Wynton Rufer and David Tua!), and opposes any attempt to legalise cannabis, based on reputable science and sound principles of public health and safety.

We argue that drug use is both a criminal and a health issue. A smart arrest policy can both provide a societal stamp of disapproval and provide an opportunity to intervene and stop the progression of use. Keeping marijuana illegal through an appropriate application of the laws that cater for ‘youthful indiscretions’ and which focus predominantly on supply and dealers is as much a public safety policy as it is a public health policy. But if those with addictions commit serious offences, as does happen, the criminal law cannot simply turn a blind eye. The community still needs to be protected.

We fully support the increased provision and funding of drug counselling services, drug treatment centres and drug education programmes in schools. These should remain our preferred ‘smart’ approach to cannabis use.

This is not a ‘war on drugs’ – this is a defence of our brains and health. People should always come before profits.

Retaining it as a criminal offence sends a clear and unequivocal message that New Zealanders regard drug use as a dangerous and unacceptable form of recreation.

We urge New Zealanders to be fully informed on this debate, to think deeply on the implications, and to vote NO to legalising cannabis in the referendum.


Aaron Ironside – Spokesperson / Counsellor

Pat Buckley – Amped4Life Trust

Pat Walsh – Secondary School Principal, former head of a Principal’s Ass’n

                              Imraan Ali – New Zealand Muslim Association

Rev Pane Kawhia – Anglican Minister, Ruatoria

Christine Rankin – Transforming Justice Foundation

Dr Ate Moala – PACYFIC Trust

Vic Tamati – Community Worker

Mo McLeary – Drug Free Ambassadors

Dr Andreas LeinfellnerPaediatrician.

Kirk Hardy – The Drug Detection Agency

Alli Axford – Educator

Mazin Al-Salim – Working Together Group (WTG)

Sully Pa’ea – Community Worker – South Auckland

Maureen MacDonald – Drug-ARM Wellington

Wayne Mulqueen – Focus on the Family NZ

Jess McVicar – Sensible Sentencing Trust

Dave Pizzini – Ex-Police (Detective Senior Sergeant)

Bob McCoskrie – Family First NZ / World Federation Against Drugs

Darryl Wesley – Health professional

Stuart Caldwell – Get Smart (Tauranga)

Brendon Warne – Anti-P Ministries

Alan Vink – LeadershipWorx

Dale Kirk – Methcon

Stuart Lange – NZ Christian Network

Nick Tuitasi QSM – Pacific Wave

John Subritzky – Promise Keepers

Rob Nordstrom – Rubicon Alcohol & Other Drug

Gaylene Fraser – Educator

Karrin Coates – Sensible Sentencing Group Trust

Greer Keane – Te Ata Rangi Rangatahi

Glenn Dobson – International Board Member – National Drug and Alcohol Screening Association (NDASA)

Gayann Phillips – NZ Christian Network

Christina Stroud – Think Again-Risk Management in the Workplace

Ismail  Waja – Working Together Group (WTG)

Bruce Couper – Ex-Police

Phil Paikea – Community Worker

Trevor Turner – Educator

Ronji Tanielu – Community Worker

Allan Va’a – Community Worker – South Auckland

Bev Adair-Beets – Youth Advocate

Piripi Rakete – Educator

Dr Kevin Sabet – SAM Smart Approaches to Marijuana (US)

Luke Niforatos – SAM Smart Approaches to Marijuana

Authorised by SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) NZ, c/- 28 Davies Ave, Manukau City 2241


Join the discussion 32 Comments

  • Derek Nash says:

    We have a long running longitudinal study based in Dunedin that addresses the consequences of cannabis use in New Zealand. See:
    Another longitudinal study is based in Christchurch. On the same issue see:
    These articles are “evidence” and influence the decision to restrict sales to people 20 years of age and older.

  • Chris Kitson says:

    At this time, I still don’t know which way I’ll vote on the day. I’m still researching it, etc.
    However, a very strong argument for voting “No”, is found at:–bill-opponents

  • Derek Nash says:

    Portugal decriminalized drugs and they don’t have any problems.

  • Mike S says:

    Using outdated data, that has been cherry-picked, taken out of context, and intentionally misrepresented, to try and support your misguided agenda, sad.

    YOU STATE: [there has been an increase in drugged driving crashes]

    “The percent of fatalities with drivers who tested positive for Delta‐9 THC at the 5 ng/mL level was 8% in 2017, down from 13% in 2016.”
    ***It should be noted that the improved reporting for the specific level of Delta‐9 THC occurred in 2016, which makes a comparison to prior years invalid.***
    – Impacts of Marijuana Legalization in Colorado: A Report Pursuant to Senate Bill 13‐283 October 2018.

    YOU STATE: [there has been an increase in youth marijuana use]

    “The proportion of Colorado high school students reporting using marijuana ever in their lifetime remained statistically unchanged between 2005 and 2017. Further, there was no statistically significant difference between Colorado student responses compared to national data.”

    “The percentage of high school students reporting past 30‐day use also remained stable, with no significant changes between 2005 and 2017.”

    “The proportion of students trying marijuana before the age of 13 went down significantly in Colorado, from 9.2% in 2015 to 6.5% in 2017.”
    – Impacts of Marijuana Legalization in Colorado: A Report Pursuant to Senate Bill 13‐283 October 2018.

    YOU STATE: [that there are costs that far outweigh tax revenues from marijuana]

    Firstly you quote a report commissioned by “The Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University”, that is not published in any reputable journal or peer-reviewed in a formal scientific manner.

    The report is FULL of inconsistencies, broad assumptions, and illogical inferences. There are also MAJOR ERRORS in how they have calculated the “costs”. They even cite ‘public-disturbance by loud parties where people are probably also taking marijuana’ as one of their supposed external costs. The costs to healthcare are based on a truly shoddy bit of unscientific guesswork involving using the “estimated average cost of ICU and hospital visits” which is totally misrepresentative. They also count the entire cost of putting the 9% of regular marijuana users through therapy!!!

    YOU STATE: [that the black market is thriving]

    United Nations World Drug Report 2020 – States that recent legalisation of cannabis has decreased black-market sales to a great extent in the areas where it has been enacted.

    YOU STATE: [that there have been sustained marijuana arrest rates]

    “In Colorado, the number of marijuana arrests decreased by 56% for Whites, 39% for Hispanics, and 51% for Blacks.”
    – Impacts of Marijuana Legalization in Colorado: A Report Pursuant to Senate Bill 13‐283 October 2018.

    YOU STATE: [that there may be an issue with tobacco company investment in marijuana ]

    New Zealand legislation will prohibit the advertisement of cannabis products.

    YOU STATE: [It plays a significant role in domestic violence]

    There is a lot of conflicting data in this area, and it is almost impossible to differentiate between acts of violence being caused by cannabis, or violent people/criminals/people involved in gangs, etc., being more likely to be frequent users of cannabis. Additionally, as there have been no studies that show significant increases in cannabis use after legalisation, the point is irrelevant. There is also no consideration for the potential decrease in violence caused by people’s decreased interactions with gangs and other criminals, gang turf wars, etc.

    YOU STATE: [It plays a significant role in crime]

    The most major link to crime in New Zealand is a direct result of its current illegality, studies in Colorado have shown that marijuana-related crime has not been negatively impacted by legalisation.
    – Impacts of Marijuana Legalization in Colorado: A Report Pursuant to Senate Bill 13‐283 October 2018

    YOU STATE: [It plays a significant role in accidents, mental disorders and lost productivity]

    As there have been no studies that show significant increases in cannabis use after legalisation, the point is irrelevant. It also does not take into account the huge boost to productivity that will be produced by creating a legal market. It also ignores the fact that people who may have felt isolated from society due to their illegal consumption of cannabis, may feel more compelled to participate in a society that is more accepting of them and their lifestyle choices, and also make people with problems to be more likely to access health and mental services.

  • TruthInGOD says:

    Tobacco, alcohol, sugar, junk-food, sunbathing, meat consumption, a sedentary lifestyle, violence in the media, religious extremism, all cause much more harm than cannabis. This is also not considering the added negative impact these things would have if they were currently illegal and controlled by gangs and crims with no regulation.

    You should be all for putting people in jail for selling hamburgers and fries, or spending more than 10 minutes in the sun without protection if you are against legalising cannabis.

  • ProperValues says:

    Say NOPE to right-wing, anti-science, Christian propaganda! Vote YES.

  • Bob says:

    Um – the referendum is about legalising, you realise??

  • Bob says:

    Both based on historical use when products were lesser THC. So the harms will be far greater with all the new products and concentrates and higher THC.

  • Bob says:

    yeah right!!!

  • Dr John Entwhistle says:

    I am wondering how the people listed above have so much money to advertise in the Herald. They are so anti-change in our laws. It could be that they have a vested interest of the status quo. Could it be they are supplying drugs to the gangs in NZ to distribute?

  • Phillip Johns says:

    I think that John Entwhistle might be onto something. Anybody with a huge Facebook group could let them know.

  • Aaron Meyrick says:

    Please listen to the scientific evidence not propaganda based on personal beliefs. This is now happening all the time with our political decision making. Its a real shame and has huge real-world consequences to it.
    Think for yourself and and your family before you Vote. This choice wont come again in our lifetime.
    A Meyrick
    Drug Harm Reduction & Support Worker

  • Roger Green says:

    As the founder of THE RETREAT drug and alcohol rehab Otahuhu and as one who was addicted to cannabis for 20 years (free of it for the last 40 years) I can personally and professionally confirm the Cannabis SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO ROAM FREELY IN OUR COMMUNITY !!!


    Roger Green IC&RC

  • Peter Osbourne says:

    Sorry Roger Green, you have a vested interest and no scientific evidence to support your opinion. There is plenty of scientific and social evidence that marijuana is a lot less harmful than alcohol. Look at the effect of alcohol on driving for instance.
    I have lived all my life with the current laws and they have not worked. It is time to treat marijuana as a health issue not a criminal one.
    Vote YES.

  • Bruce Denham says:

    A very good non partisan source is at:
    These people have reviewed all the science and put it up. They do not put forward an opinion.

  • Maxwell says:

    The false propaganda that this entire website proselytizes is absurd. Thank goodness that New Zealanders are smart and logical enough to know that what you are doing here is blatantly one sided and erroneous in nature. Everyone should vote however they wish, and hopefully they are basing their votes on the hard facts and not the radicalized rantings and skewed statistics of a biased organization. This site utilizes fear mongering tactics to target those with little knowledge on the subject in the hopes that Sam-NZ can control the outcome of the vote to adhere to their own profits and needs. Shameful.

  • Mark Hanly says:

    The NZ Medical Association’s mission statement is to provide leader-ship of the New Zealand medical profession and promote the health of all New Zealanders. They represent the Doctors who see the harm marijuana causes, and DO NOT SUPPORT marijuana legalization!

    Who are you going to trust?
    An organisation comprised of and representing medical Doctors who say VOTE NO
    Or the drug foundation who do not have one medical Doctor on their board?

    Here are the professions of the Drug Foundation board members urging us to vote YES.
    Director of Māori Development at Otago University.
    Lizzie Marvelly Lizzie came to prominence as a singer.
    Mike spent 10 years (1984-94) as a political journalist
    Patricia Walsh is a proud mother of four adult children and nanny to thirteen adored mokopuna
    Allen and Clarke Policy and Regulatory Specialists
    Social Intrapreneur, The Southern Initiative.
    Director of Whakaata Tohu Tohu/Mirror Services , Dunedin
    Education system and organisation performance consultant
    Julia Amua Whaipooti (Ngāti Porou), Senior Advisor/Kaitohutohu, Office of the Children’s Commissioner
    Senior Lecturer and Associate Head of School at AUT School of Law

  • Maxwell says:

    Of course doctors would say NO to cannabis legalization, it directly cuts into the profits of pharmaceutical companies. Big pharma has been actively fighting cannabis legalization for years in America, because they know how much it will hurt them financially. Those same companies, who focus on temporary solutions which have a multitude of negative side effects, pay doctors to demonize cannabis. Why would you trust companies that knowingly and willingly created the opioid epidemic? I have personally lost many friends to opioids, and 90% of them were introduced to painkillers by a doctor. I have lost zero friends from cannabis consumption. ZERO. Don’t drink the kool aid, think for yourself, and vote for what you think is best New Zealand.

  • Maxwell says:,year%20for%20a%20disclosure%20scheme.&text=Drug%20companies%20will%20declare%20controversial,Medicines%20New%20Zealand%20has%20promised.

    Interesting timing that drug companies are declaring controversial gifts and payments to doctors in 2020… this is exactly what happened in America. Drug companies are paying doctors to talk poorly about cannabis and try to get New Zealanders to vote no. Dont let big pharma take over New Zealand like it did in America.

  • Everyone is ignoring the fact it allready roams freely in our communities! Is this medicinal, recreational and spiritual past-time that Kiwi’s have been keenly and semi-openly engaging both behind closed doors and often quite publicly, really safer in the hands of big commerce?

    Perhaps it’s something so valuable and sacred, it needs to be kept by the people, for the people. It’s many Kiwi’s bread and butter on the side. Such as single mothers trying to make ends meat or give their kids the best in life, despite struggles Or a side income for parents working full time still grinding to pay off their debts and afford christmas presents come December.

    The bread and butter that’s especially needed in lower income areas in particular, amoung maori/pasifika people whom may not exactly be getting looked after honestly by there community leaders and Iwi representatives.
    Attitudes towards cannabis has allways been lax here in Aotearoa, if you’ve ever been to a Katchafire concert you know exactly what I mean, if you were at any gig during the 70’s or 80’s then you probably remember when cannabis was just called pot and dope and the coremandal was where the good stuff was, but they say it’s too strong now? However if you’ve ever seen someone with severe Autism or AP smoke pot then you realize theres a use for all types.

    But however I digress. Should we, as an innovative and punch above our weight nation, Have Trust in Our Government TO DO IT RIGHT and Keep it Right.. then It could be a huge successs, a triumphant niche adjacent to our craft beer, wine, hospitality and tourism/entertainment scenes, just nicely tucked away out of sight, simple yet semi-sophisticated, with cultural ellegance yet a natural congruence to fit the NZ image. THE QUESTION IS, DO YOU TRUST YOUR GOVERNMENT. DO YOU THINK ITS A CRIME ONLY IF YOU GET CAUGHT?

    We dropped the ball, as a nation, when it came to the Synthetics and the Psychoactive Substances Bill, and wasted alot of Drug Foundation research and money, only to sweep what was attempting to be a self regulated market under the rug until it was all too late.. after being the talk of the world to be closely watched and admired, some dirty politics ruined what would of been a framework decades ahead of the rest.

    And lets not pretend a doobie of outdoor grown organic cannabis gets pulled out at the end of the night after a BBQ, quietly in the corner of the backyard, between some gracefully aging boomers of course, that anyone would really bat and eye or care to make an issue out of it. Because we all know those are the responsible Kiwi’s, whom don’t binge drink and know the importance this herb holds culturally, spiritally, recreationally and politically.

    We All know the age ole “scientific fakt” that goes something like “Regular Cannabis use reduces(increases?) grey matter in the prefrontal cortex and perrenial lobes of the brain for adolesants”, but let’s get real here.

    Throwing people in jail, tearing apart families, funding organised crime, giving police alot extra footwork for little benefit and potentially trading some mental health defeciets for some mental health benefits, well could that really be better than letting a government that bans guns without so much as a vote or referendum, and enacts emergency legislation to change legislation, at the drop of a hat… I really don’t know myself, All I know is lets not forget it’s allready everywhere, and someone in your neighbourhood most definately has a cheeky pot plant or a some doobs in there bottom drawer.

  • barry cathie says:

    sentiens syndacatus said it beautifully and perfectlyand i couldnt agree more on all points. when the punnishment for something exceeds the assumed harm done by the plant in question then we must all take a step back and really take a good hard look at our laws and ourselfs at what we are doing and the mindset we are maintaining and the injustice upon innocent people.any inquiry into the scientific peer reviewed papers and even just boots on the ground investigative research will reveal a plethora of factual credible peer reviewed papers that wholly support cannabis and reveal it not to be this hyperbole ridiculous deamon drug that the media and un educated people tout and parade as though its the deamon statan himself. wake up people youve been lied to mislead and punnished and the time to end this is now.

  • Louise Crawford says:

    It petrifies me knowing as per usual the government puts innocent people and their lives in jeopardy. Considering the damage I have been witness too throughout the duration of my life.
    The hypocrites. Tobacco has been penalized. Meths is at an all time high. Prescription drugs exceed the public demands, of which cl is appropriate because it provides government revenue..
    This subject is endless. And as for the police absolute compassion!
    The consequences are fatal. Children consume the drug now. Having liberal contact or access is fatal.
    I am infuriated they haven’t considered the long term effect. Dam, I am infuriated

  • Maxwell says:

    As someone who has lived in America and New Zealand for a very long time, I can assure you that the New Zealand government is not putting “innocent peoples lives in jeopardy” like Louise says. On the whole the New Zealand government is trying to controll a substance already being used in an unregulated manner, and making sure that it is safe for consumption. The New Zealand government is and has been doing a damn good job compared to other countries, such as America. The referendum is pretty conservative in nature, limiting THC content to 15%, making strict microbial standards, no pesticides, and capping the amount allowed to be cultivated. Compared to other countries who have already legalized cannabis, those are pretty tight measures. Why not allow the government to control these things to allow for the safe consumption of something already being consumed on the black market? In the process the tax revenue generated by legalization would be quite helpful in a time where the tourist industry is non existant, not to mention the jobs it would create in a time where unemployment is very high. Its a no brainer. Don’t let fear mongering individuals and organizations with limited knowledge on the subject take control. Vote for what you think is best for the country.

  • Anna says:

    Thankyou to so many caring people speaking the truth about the damage legalizing would do. Its such a sad state of affairs’ to see so many others be so negative about. A sad reflection on just how downhill society has gone when they criticize instead of caring for children and family.
    so NO if you love your family.

  • Madeline says:

    I think aligning yourself with John Subritzky helps show the moral compass of those running this campaign

  • Sam says:

    That list is a compilation of some the biggest biggots in this country you should all be ashamed.

  • Sam says:

    And put your names on the flyer cowards

  • Tobz says:

    Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM, Inc.) is a non-profit organization based in Alexandria, Virginia,

    opposed to marijuana legalization and commercialization. SAM describes itself as a bi-partisan partnership that works with local, state, and federal legislators to create policies that decrease marijuana use.[3] SAM advocates for civil penalties for marijuana use, along with mandated treatment, and supports maintaining misdemeanor and felony charges for production and distribution.[4]

    Go fuck yourself you Trump Supporting American Super Pac.

  • Dave says:

    I’m high right now

  • will superior says:

    its obvious not many people voted no ,or nope as this hardwired throwback trash group of greasers thought real people in the real world refer to as., didnt make a decision off this comedy of errors. list of actors in a freakshow. they are too wasted to know precious means.

  • Anonymous says:


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