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Guest Blog: What will happen after we win the referendum?

Guest Blog: What will happen after we win the referendum?

Cannabis won’t be legal straight away after the referendum. Once the election is finished, the votes for the referendum will be counted. If there are more than 50% yes votes, the government will introduce the Bill to parliament.

First reading

The Cannabis Bill will then be read to parliament in a first reading. It is here that it will be initially debated in parliament. If it is mainly agreed upon, the Bill will then be referred to a “select committee”.

Select Committee

A Select Committee is a small group of MP’s (usually between 6 and 12) which are broadly representative of the parties in parliament. Their job is to examine all aspects of the Bill and its implications. It is in this part of the process that the public will be invited to make submissions. This means you can write in with your opinion on the Bill that came out of the parliamentary reading, for it to be taken into consideration. It is very likely that you will also be able to watch the Select Committee as they examine the Bill, either in person or online. Usually the Select Committee process takes about six months. After this time they will collate a report which will contain any amendments they would like to make to the Bill, and explanations of why they decided upon those changes.

Second reading whole house committee and third reading

The Select Committee will bring their report to parliament where it will again be read. If there are amendments that were not decided upon unanimously by the Select Committee they will be voted on in parliament after the second reading.

The next step is a “committee of the whole house” where any member of parliament can debate and make small speeches on any aspect of the Bill. This process can sometimes take a few days. Once the Bill is agreed upon and amended if necessary, there is a third and final reading in parliament.

Bills are unlikely to be rejected if they make it through to a third reading, but this the last chance for MPs to debate it, before it’s final form is passed to the governor general to sign. Once the Bill has been signed by the governor general, it becomes law.

Guest Blog by Angelina Stanton

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Blog: Does cannabis use cause parents to neglect their children?

Guest Blog: Does cannabis use cause parents to neglect their children?

Unfortunately here in Aotearoa, we have a serious problem with child abuse. According to a a 2012 report prepared for the Ministry of Health, approximately one child a day was admitted to hospital with injuries relating to assault, neglect or maltreatment. Sadly these figures appear to have increased over recent years.

With this in mind it is understandable many people are worried about the effects legalising cannabis may have on child abuse, particularly neglect. Though there have been many child homicides linked to the use of alcohol or drugs such as methamphetamine and synthetics, there has been no link between the use of cannabis by itself, and child abuse. When cannabis has been involved in these cases it is almost always secondary to other substances like alcohol.

 Legalising cannabis will mean that those who do want to use it on a recreational basis will have a safe and accessible way to get it. It will also people will no longer be prosecuted for using a substance that is relatively harmless. It’s pretty hard not to neglect your children from jail!

 Samantha, 32 told us about her experience growing up with heavy alcohol users as compared to cannabis smokers:

 As a child my parents separated when I was young. I grew up with my mother who developed a heavy dependency on alcohol, and became a daily drinker along with her partner. I regularly visited my father and eventually moved in with him. He was a regular cannabis user and had a joint most days with dinner, and only drank occasionally.

Living with alcoholic parents was extremely volatile and unpredictable. I never knew what mood they would be when I came home. Whether they would be in a happy drunk mood, or angry, smashing dishes and yelling at each other. If they had too much alcohol, sometimes they would pass out in the afternoon or evening and leave us kids to our own devices. A lot of money went on booze, and they were often too drunk to cook or anything else, so we mainly lived off sandwiches, noodles and fried food and we didn’t do any extra curricular activities.

When I lived with my dad it was a much calmer environment. Although he used cannabis almost daily, it didn’t interfere with what he had to do during the day, including taking care of his children. He would often be a bit spaced out in the evenings, and that’s it. I remember him having legal troubles due to growing plants for his personal use.

As an adult I smoke rarely but I support the legalisation of cannabis, because I don’t think people like my father should be prosecuted for something that is usually pretty harmless.

Guest Blog by Angelina Stanton

Guest Blog: How we’re gonna win!

Guest Blog: How we’re gonna win!

By Rebecca Reider
Trustee, Make It Legal Aotearoa New Zealand

The cannabis referendum on September 19th is just around the corner! The polls are showing we have a decent shot at winning, but it is by no means guaranteed. All we can be sure of is that it’s likely to be a very close race. Every single vote matters.

So if we’re going to win this thing, we all need to activate the people around us to vote yes.

Does that mean you have to get into an hours-long argument with some random person who has bizarre stereotypes about ‘dopeheads’? No! There are way more effective ways to use your energy. So here are some ideas.

Enroll

Make sure all the young people in your life are enrolled to vote. Young people are by far the most supportive of legalising cannabis. But history shows that young people also have the lowest voting rates! This is a problem. We need to mobilise young voters. Send them a message, remind them when election day is. Show them how easy it is to enrol to vote on vote.nz. (Seriously, it is SO easy. I just updated my details online there because I just moved house; it took me a total of three minutes, and all I needed was my name, address and driver’s licence.)

Have a Vote Party

Once everyone’s enrolled they still need to be reminded to vote! Election Day (Sept 19) is on a Saturday. This is a historic opportunity to have our say… so why not celebrate it with a voting party? Get everyone together for an afternoon hangout or BBQ, then go vote together at 4.20pm. (But save the cannabis for AFTER you all vote!)

Talk to your elders

Polls show that the older generation are more likely to vote no. But often this is based on misinformation because they simply haven’t had anyone explain why the referendum makes sense. Talk to elder people you have a relationship with, particularly family members, in a respectful way.

Choose your moments. Don’t waste your energy on someone who is ranting, incoherent, and never in a million years going to vote yes. Talk to people who have sincere concerns and see if you can help them reconsider.

Understand your audience. Listen to people’s genuine concerns if they’re not sure which way to vote, and take them seriously.

If you’re talking to someone who’s on the fence, and they’re saying “I’m concerned about young people accessing cannabis,” it’s not going to help if you say “Hey, we all have a right to choose what we put in our bodies!”…. because if you say that, you’re not addressing the values or concerns of your audience. In this example, it would be much more helpful to explain that legalisation with a regulated market will actually keep young people safer – people under 20 won’t be able to buy cannabis, and when they do turn 20, they’ll have access to cannabis that is controlled for safety and potency rather than getting unknown stuff from a tinny house. (You could also mention that multiple overseas studies have shown that legalising cannabis for adults does not increase youth use of cannabis!)

Know your stuff.

You don’t have to become an expert on legalisation, but if you learn even a little bit, you’re going to know more than most people you talk to. Being knowledgeable can help you stay calm, and that will help reassure anyone you’re talking with. Here are some resources to check out, depending how far you want to go:

Our brief explainer of what’s in the bill

The case for yes – The Helen Clark Foundation’s explanation of why a yes vote makes sense for New Zealand

The Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor’s balanced analysis of the likely results if we pass the referendum

The government’s detailed explanation of what’s in the bill

Get out on the streets

One of the most fun ways to raise awareness for the cause is to get out in public with some Make It Legal signs. It’s not that hard – all you need is a few mates and a spare hour of time (or less – or more!). Stand on a busy street corner, look happy, wave your signs, enjoy people tooting their horns at you in support! Seeing public displays like this, from people like you, helps the public feel like voting yes is a mainstream and relatable thing to do. Contact us if you’d like a sign.

Explain the process

Understand the process, and explain it to others. Many people seem anxious about the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill (that’s the legislation that the referendum would send to Parliament) because they don’t understand the process. The referendum will NOT immediately legalise cannabis.

It is only the first step, which will get the government to introduce legislation to Parliament. There will be a Select Committee process where the public can make submissions and influence the legislation. So for cannabis users who think the bill isn’t perfect and therefore don’t want to support it – relax, we need to pass the referendum first and then we can work to improve the bill. And for conservative folks who are scared this is all moving too fast – you can tell them to relax, this is only step one in the conversation. If we don’t pass the referendum, though, we don’t get to have that conversation in Parliament at all.

What the cannabis referendum has to do with Smokefree 2025

What the cannabis referendum has to do with Smokefree 2025

A comment rises continually on our social media and it needs to be put to rest.

It lurches around the comments section a bit like this:
“What about smokefree 2025?”
“But what about smoke free 2025?”
“But aren’t we aiming for NZ to be smoke-free by 2025.”

It rarely has much more substance to it than that. In fact, that lack of substance is a common feature of the ‘Vote No’ comments on our pages.

The spelling and punctuation is always wrong, too. It’s Smokefree 2025. It’s a proper noun. Sure, nobody likes a grammar freak, but they do have their role in helping clarify misinformation.

Looking for a little more substance though?

Well, first, there is the fact that cannabis is not tobacco. Don’t get us wrong – inhaling hot smoke into your lungs isn’t great; but cannabis is not associated with disease in anything like the way tobacco is.

According to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, “Overall, the risks of respiratory complications of cannabis smoking appear to be relatively small and to be far lower than those of tobacco smoking.” Conflating cannabis and tobacco is a zombie argument move.

Secondly, Smokefree 2025’s goal is not actually a tobacco-free population. The aim is to get to under 5% of the people using tobacco by 2025. The government knows 0% is impossible.

There is no plan to ban tobacco either. The Health Promotion Agency’s Smokefree 2025 website even has emblazoned on its front page, “It’s not about banning smoking. It’s about taking action against tobacco so that by 2025, hardly anyone will smoke.”

And how has the government taken action? Through regulation. They have increased excise tax, provided huge support for quitting, fully banned advertising, and beaten the tobacco companies by forcing through plain packaging with health warnings on it.

The smoking rate has halved over the past 25 years in New Zealand.

The only thing that the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill has in common with Smokefree NZ is that they are both forms of legal regulation.

The Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill states on its first page, “The overarching objective of the regulatory regime is to reduce the harms associated with cannabis use experience by individuals, families, whānau, and communities in New Zealand.”

How will it reduce harm?
● By restricting young people’s (20+) access (drug dealers don’t ask for I.D.)
● Raising public awareness of risks associated with cannabis use
● Reducing the illicit market,
● Ending criminal records for cannabis possession (and their racist implementation),
● Putting controls on potency and quality
● Taxation and a levy raising funds for health and education.
● Health information at the point of sale
● No advertising.

The Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill is a chance to replace a failed system with something that makes cannabis safer. It doesn’t try to pretend cannabis doesn’t exist. It doesn’t create a cannabis market; it puts controls and regulations on the one that already exists. It’s a pragmatic bill.
Find out more about it and cast YES as your vote on September 19th.

Sources:

Health Promotion Agency (2020). Smokefree Aotearoa 2025

Health Promotion Agency (2020). Facts and Figures

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine (2017). The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids.

Platform Trust Cannabis Referendum Q &A webinar (2020). h

A Bill to vote YES on…

A Bill to vote YES on…

The Cannabis Leglaisation and Control Bill has been released. This is the Bill that you will be voting on.

At the general election, on your ballot paper, will be a question:

Do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill?

You can choose 1 of these 2 answers:

  • Yes, I support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill
  • No, I do not support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill

The Bill is summarised in this infographic:

More information can be found here: https://www.referendums.govt.nz/cannabis/summary.html

Turuki Turuki

Turuki Turuki

The second report of the Safe and Effective Justice Committee states “That the Government strengthen regulation of alcohol, legalise and regulate personal use of cannabis, and consider that for all drugs, treating personal drug use as a health issue, with more funding towards prevention, education and treatment.”
See the full report here:

The Case for Yes

The Case for Yes

Report by the Helen Clark Foundation setting out the case for a Yes vote in the 2020 cannabis referendum.

From the introduction:
In 2020, New Zealanders will have the chance to make a historic decision about whether or not to change the way we regulate personal cannabis use. If we miss this opportunity, the chance may pass for a generation. Cannabis use is a reality in New Zealand, and the results of our current policy approach damage our health, worsen social equity, and drive crime.

This paper argues that the status quo is unacceptable, and seeks to ask how we can do better? Our answer is that we should move to a health-based approach with robust regulation, effective public health education, and adequate service provision.Our key criteria for any policy are: what will best improve health and equity while reducing harm? Evidence suggests that up to eighty per cent of New Zealanders will use cannabis at least once before turning 25, making cannabis the most commonly used illicit drug in New Zealand. Yet cannabis remains an illegal drug, and prosecutions for possession and use alone continue for those unlucky enough to get caught.

The current approach to cannabis inflicts excessive punishment on those users who face prosecution who, in turn, are disproportionately Māori. In this paper, we argue that New Zealanders of all political persuasions should follow the evidence of what works and what doesn’t. The evidence points to a vote in support of cannabis legalisation and regulation in 2020.

Our view is that the New Zealand Government should adopt an approach to cannabis use which sees it as a health and social issue and not a criminal one. Regulation should seek to prevent the emergence of major corporate interests in the market which would have a profit motive to undermine public health objectives.In this respect New Zealand can learn from its experience with regulating tobacco and alcohol. Overall our analysis argues that the disproportionately adverse effects of current policies on cannabis use justify putting in place legalisation and effective regulation.