Media Release 6 November 2020
The SayNopetoDope Campaign is welcoming the official result of the referendum on cannabis legalisation which has confirmed that the majority of New Zealanders have said nope to legalising cannabis.
“New Zealand has dodged a bullet by rejecting the legalisation of the recreational use of this drug. At a time when New Zealand’s mental health system is bursting at the seams, legalising and legitimising a mind-altering and addictive drug would have simply added to social harm,” says spokesperson Aaron Ironside.
“The report on cannabis legalisation by BERL admitted that pot shops would have become as noticeable in number as fast food outlets, that the black market would continue, and that usage would increase by almost 30% – and especially amongst the 20-30 age group. This was a wake-up call to most New Zealanders about the reality of legalisation.”
“The use of cannabis is associated with increased risks of a number of adverse outcomes including educational delay, welfare dependence, increased risks of psychotic symptoms, major depression, increased risks of motor vehicle accidents, increased risks of other illicit drug use, and respiratory impairment. In US states that have already legalised the drug, these states have seen a black market that continues to thrive, and sustained marijuana arrest rates.”
“We have always argued 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 cannabis 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 centers and drug education programmes in schools. These should remain our preferred ‘smart’ approach to cannabis use. The medicinal cannabis regime should also be reviewed in order to ensure that safe and effective medicines are available by prescription to patients who would benefit.”