More than 50 Māori health leaders are calling on the Crown to ensure regulations for cannabis legislation favours Māori who want to participate and operate in the market, if New Zealand votes yes next year.
In a statement released today, leaders from organisations including the Drug Foundation and Hāpai Te Hauora say the changes will only be transformational for Māori health, justice and economic outcomes if the regulations reflect a kaupapa Māori approach.
Drug Foundation chair Tuari Potiki says their message is clear.
“We expect cannabis regulations to be designed with and by Māori, under a Te Tiriti o Waitangi framework, and to promote the rights and interests of whānau, hapū and iwi,” said Mr Potiki.
While the need to protect Māori rights and interests was acknowledged by the Crown in its proposed legal cannabis framework, the group has come up with proposals on how to achieve their desired outcomes.
“This includes the Crown working with us to establish a kaupapa Māori agency that’s mandated to negotiate and lead the development of regulations on behalf of our people,” said Mr Potiki.
If the country votes yes next year, Selah Hart, Hāpai Te Hauora CEO, said they must be part of the process to design regulations to ensure Māori are better off.
“Māori are more likely to suffer the multiple social and health harms from cannabis use, less likely to be able to access health treatment, and are far more likely to be convicted than other groups,” said Ms Hart.
“This situation is a fundamental breach of Te Tiriti as it is the result of compounding issues arising from colonisation - there were no substance use issues in te ao Māori in precolonial times.”