Independent public policy think tank The Helen Clark Foundation released a report tonight recommending that New Zealanders vote yes in the 2020 cannabis referendum.
The report also gave recommendations to the Government on policies around cannabis legalisation in New Zealand, saying it should look at:
• Expunging prior minor cannabis offences from the record and remove past convictions for supply where there was no compounding factor associated with the conviction, such as firearm use or violence.
• Legislate for the regulation of, and access to, a legal cannabis market. Models from both Uruguay and North America should be seriously studied.
• Develop a structure for a legal market which prevents and/or discourages the emergence of large, commercial, for-profit cannabis producers and retailers.
• Ensure that the needs of the individuals and communities most affected by the current policy of prohibition on cannabis use are carefully considered when implementing and monitoring the legal market, and that these communities have equitable access to becoming producers and retailers within the legal market.
In the report's conclusion, it claims criminalising cannabis causes social inequity and a drain on police resources.
"Prohibition-based policy approaches have not eradicated and cannot eradicate cannabis consumption and supply in New Zealand.
"Criminalising these is an inappropriate use of justice system resources, and there is significant evidence that the current approach is profoundly unjust to Māori.
"We believe it is better to take that burden from the police by legalising and regulating.
"New Zealand needs to treat cannabis use as a public health and social issue rather than a criminal one."
The Helen Clark Foundation is based at the Auckland University of Technology.