Māori Council calls for police to address discrimination in cannabis arrests

By November 2, 2020 Recent News

Radio NZ News 2 November 2020
Our additional comment: Good call.
Also focusing on why Maori disproportionately use drugs would also be a good call.
Prevention and education matters.

The New Zealand Māori Council has called on the police to use their powers of discretion to stop sending Māori to prison for low-level drug offences now the cannabis referendum looks unlikely to pass.

Preliminary results for the cannabis referendum, announced on Friday, revealed 53 per cent voted against legalisation, with 46 per cent in favour.

Those campaigning yes to the cannabis referendum argued that fewer Māori would have a criminal record if it was legalised as they were six times more likely to get a custodial sentence for cannabis than non-Māori.

New Zealand Māori Council chief executive Matthew Tukaki said he knows many Māori would be disappointed with the failure of the cannabis referendum.

However, he said the disparity in the policing of cannabis that leads to more Māori being charged and convicted for cannabis offences than non-Māori could still be addressed.

“We should not delay in having a conversation – not about decriminalisation – but actually, reform of the criminal justice system more generally.

“Police already have powers of discretion and instead what we see is them continue to arrest mostly brown kids, and Māori and Pasifika kids, when it comes to possession of cannabis – that’s a low level form of offending that the police already have the ability to use discretion for but for some reason they’re not using it.
READ MORE: https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/m-ori-council-calls-police-address-discrimination-in-cannabis-arrests