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.

Time to repeal the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975

Time to repeal the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975

“The Law Commission delivered a 2001 report calling, by any other name, for the decriminalisation of drugs: to repeal and replace the Misuse of Drugs Act. In the past two years, another two far more transformational reports – He Ara Oranga/Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry, and Turuki! Turuki!/Safe and Effective Justice Review – have been delivered to Labour Party ministers, for health and justice respectively. The latter is so bold as to suggest legal regulation of all drugs.

Nobody, from fundamentalist opposition through to Labour ministers, can seriously suggest that a narrow loss for one specific, niche law on cannabis shuts down dialogue on how we tackle all drug harm, from alcohol to methamphetamine. Such a referendum result does not erase the detailed expert reports that politicians commissioned to help build a mandate for change.

They’ve got that mandate as elected representatives; as people who campaigned to improve lives, reduce the prison population and improve mental health; as decision makers responsible to heed the science, let alone the science they asked for.

It’s leadership. It’s time to repeal and replace the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975, lest we keep messily and unsatisfactorily carving out bits here for medicinal cannabis, there for drug-checking, here for hemp products, there for synthetics and methamphetamine harm.

The referendum debate highlighted a major area of consensus: New Zealanders want drugs treated as a health issue, and there’s work to do on the how. That’s not coming off the agenda.”

We should be safe from unreasonable search, seizure, arrest and detention

We should be safe from unreasonable search, seizure, arrest and detention

Did you know that the Misuse of Drugs Act gives the police powers of search and seizure without warrant?
The police can (and do) stop people on the street, or enter their homes to search for drugs. People have been stopped on flimsy grounds such as “I smell  cannabis so I am going to search you”
Nobody should be subject to unreasonable search, seizure, arrest and detention – yet thousands of New Zealanders have been subject to searches based on very limited grounds.

Laws should not unduly infringe on the rights and freedoms of individuals.

Laws should not unduly infringe on the rights and freedoms of individuals.

Laws should not unduly infringe on the rights and freedoms of individuals.
Having a law that dictates what adults can consume, is an infringement based on a moral judgement. It does not matter if you agree with people taking mind altering substances or not. You do not have the right to unduly infringe on their right to do so, or take away their right to freedom.

How can we respect a law that is unfair, unclear and undermines respect for the law?

Why have a law, if you are just going to direct the police not to enforce it.
Giving the police discretion to choose not to prosecute people for cannabis possession makes a mockery of the law. Particularly when there are insufficient safeguards to ensure these discretionary powers are not abused.
How can we respect a law that is unfair, unclear and undermines respect for the law?

Laws should be certain and clear

Laws should be certain and clear

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 is not fit for purpose. The law is 45 years old.
In 2019 amendments were made which (effectively) direct the police to use discretion for instances of cannabis possession (i.e. ignore the law) unless it is in the best interests of society to prosecute an individual.
The law is not certain or clear when the police are directed to use such a high level of discretion.

Its a nail biter!

Its a nail biter!

The preliminary results were released today for the cannabis referendum show the yes vote at 46.1% with the no vote higher at 53.1%.
But with 480,000 special votes yet to be counted there is still a chance the yes vote could win the referendum

Final results will be released on the 6th November.

See the full preliminary results here:

THANKS! to all our volunteers and supporters

THANKS! to all our volunteers and supporters

For security reasons, we have had to keep all our amazing volunteers anonymous – UNTIL NOW!
Please give a big round of thanks and appreciation to the MIL volunteer team:

Campaign Manager:  Sandra Murray

Social Media Moderators

HUGE thanks to this utterly dedicated group of volunteers. The MIL Facebook page averaged 3,000 comments per day and this team moderated around 18 hours a day filtering out abuse; getting rid of trolls and fake profiles; engaging with people to stop misinformation and answering questions on an extraordinary range of topics. We cannot thank them enough for remaining calm (mostly) and answering the same questions over and over and over and over and …….

Kate Milnes

Helen Leggatt

Matthew Elrod

Worik Stanton

Jo Wrigley

Jason Stevens

Deb Lydford

Elliot Ingram

Sandra Murray

Michael Smith

Nandor Tanczos


Social Media

All our Top Fans and commentators, especially: Associate Professor Joe Boden, Professor Julian Buchanan, Hoto Te Whitu, Martin MacGregor and Graeme Woller (you have no idea how much we appreciated your help!).

Social media content creation & Instagram: Cat

Website, social media and video content:
Thanks to Michael Smith, Rebecca Reider, Angelina Stanton, Sandra Murray, Eddie Larson (video editing), Benny Mack / Reopen (video editing), Andrew Streb (Animations) and all the others who didn’t want to be named.

Local Groups

Leads: Anntwinette Grumball & Kate Milnes
Dunedin & Otago:
Leads: Bert Holmes &  Worik Stanton
Lead: Michael Smith
Asher, Inga, Jade, Irinka, Mike, Snap, Scott, Ani, Chris, Sean, Daniel, Ryan, Ben, Luke, Keiller, Rick, Alex, Rebekah, Thor, and everyone else who helped us out!
Lead: Te Aroha Knox
Lead: Jacob Heatherington
Michael Riddell, Andy Duncan
Lead: Jared Renata
Palmerston North:
Lead: Tayte Cozens
Auckland & Northland:
Lead:  Sandra Murray
Stephen Groves, Zac Russell, HazBro, Martin Anderson, Lephi Peneha

Make It Legal Aotearoa New Zealand Trustees

Worik Stanton Metiria Turei Nandor Tanczos Rebecca Reider

Other support

Hoodies and T-Shirts: HigherNZ
Bumper Sticker sales: Cosmic & Hempstore
Ashleigh the Advocate

Extra Special Thanks

Thank you.… to all the amazing people who donated and supported us to run the best campaign possible – especially all the people who donated regular amounts into our account for months and were the backbone of our entire social media campaign ($4.20 was popular!).

Everyone who put a banner on their fence and held a sign at a picket

RS  – who rescued us from Covid-19 and helped everything get bigger and better

And a very big thank you to our families, who had to put up with us being absent, preoccupied and obsessed with Make It Legal for a protracted time 
xxxxx much love