The provisional results on the Cannabis Legalisation and Control bill referendum show that the government needs to step
up and show courageous leadership to implement evidence based drug law reform.
“Of the people who voted, 46.1% chose ‘yes’ for a common-sense approach to our drug laws that will enable a more
equitable, just, and healthy future”, said JustSpeak Director Tania Sawicki Mead.
“Special votes are yet to be counted, and this result of this referendum may yet change.
“But what has become clear in the conversations about the referendum is that most New Zealanders agree our current laws
aren’t working. The criminalisation of cannabis pushes people into the justice system with serious and harmful long term
consequences for them, their whānau and communities, with enormously harmful impacts on rangatahi Māori in particular.
“Despite the misinformation from opponents of health based drug laws and the absence of courageous political leadership,
nearly half of all New Zealanders voted for legalisation. That’s a huge turnaround after decades of narratives that used
fear to push the failed idea of a ‘war on drugs’.
“There is clear agreement from all sides of this debate that prohibition is not working. This does not have to be the
end of the road for drug law reform - it can be the beginning of something better, and bolder, but only if the
government chooses to put evidence into action.
“We elect politicians to assess evidence, listen to experts and make courageous decisions to do right by the communities
that they represent. The government needs to take up this challenge, not just leave this issue to fester for another
decade, and build a system that puts the wellbeing of people at it’s center.
“We are calling on the government to start with an overhaul of the out of date Misuse of Drugs Act and an immediate
increase to funding for the drug treatment and education that will ensure people are treated with compassion.