5,000 signatures reached
To: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Minister Kris Faafoi, Minister Andrew Little
Repeal and replace the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975
We are calling on you to support the wellbeing of our communities repealing and replacing the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 to make sure that drug use is treated as a health and social issue.
The recent referendum on the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill brought to a head a long overdue public conversation about drugs and shone a light on the stigma and shame that has held back progress on this issue.
Although the referendum on that specific law change did not pass, there is clearly a growing consensus from people and communities across all sides of the referendum debate - our current approach to drug law is hurting our communities.
Since the referendum results, more people than ever are now in favour of a new approach to drug law, as indicated in a poll conducted earlier this year*. Our laws prevent people accessing help when they need it, and they leave thousands every year with a conviction that impacts on livelihoods, mental health, relationships, travel, housing and education.
We urge you to adopt international best practice, which increasingly favours removing all criminal penalties for low-level drug offences.
We call on you to overhaul the Misuse of Drugs Act and put in its place a system that puts health and social justice first. The new law should ensure that people are no longer prosecuted for low-level drug offences and are instead offered a pathway into treatment if they need it.
We call on you to take this decision in our collective best interest, based on good evidence and a shared vision for a fairer and more equitable society.
Let's keep moving on drug law, and take this step forward for the wellbeing of all of our communities.
List of organisations:
Amnesty New Zealand
Auckland City Mission
Child Poverty Action Group
Drugs, Health and Development Project
E Tipu E Rea
Hāpai te Hauora
Helen Clark Foundation
Make It Legal
Mental Health Foundation
Māori Law Society
National Hauora Coalition
New Zealand Medical Association
New Zealand Needle Exchange
New Zealand University Students Association
NZ Drug Foundation
People Against Prisons Aotearoa
Public Health Association
Te Hauora o Turanganui a Kiwa
Te Rau Ora
Wellington City Mission
Wesley Community Action
List of individuals:
Chester Borrows, QSO, previous MP for the National Party
Joe Boden, Professor and Director, Christchurch Health and Development Study, University of Otago Christchurch
Dr Fiona Hutton, Associate Professor, Institute of Criminology, Victoria University Wellington
Richard Medlicott, Fellowship of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners
Doug Sellman, Professor, Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Otago Christchurch
Why is this important?
Taking a health- and social-based approach to drug use would reduce stigma, meaning that community leaders, educators, health providers and whānau could focus more on prevention and harm reduction, while providing timely and judgement-free treatment or support. It would also mean that medicinal cannabis patients could access affordable relief without fear of prosecution.
Prohibition continues to discriminate against Māori and Pasifika, who account for more than half of all cannabis convictions in Aotearoa. Convictions also fall disproportionately on young people. 2019 amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act have failed to shift these unequal outcomes in criminalisation for low-level drug offences.
Kākahungia te tangata ki te aroha, kaua ki te whakawhiu - Our people need a cloak of support and care, not punishment and stigma.