Pacific leaders weigh in on cannabis referendum

Radio NZ News 1 October 2020
Family First Comment: “We have broken systems when it comes to alcohol and pokie machines and both alcohol and pokie machines are all over my community in South Auckland and all over communities with higher deprivation, lower income families. The model brought out here with this cannabis bill is to basically re-do the same model. If government can’t control the harm and damage that comes to families through pokie machines and alcohol, how the hell are they going to control the harm that comes from cannabis because I believe it’s a business model that’s putting forward profit over people,” – Ronji Tanielu.
The question of whether cannabis should be legal has divided New Zealanders for years, but what does the Pacific community think of the bill?
The 2018-2019 New Zealand Health Survey found 15 percent of adults had used cannabis in the past year – but for Pacific, the figure was slightly higher at 17 percent.
Pacific community leaders around New Zealand have weighed in on what the cannabis legalisation and control referendum will mean for their communities.
South Auckland community worker Ronji Tanielu is strongly against the bill and said lower income families, including Māori and Pacific, would be harmed if the bill became law.
“We have broken systems when it comes to alcohol and pokie machines and both alcohol and pokie machines are all over my community in South Auckland and all over communities with higher deprivation, lower income families.
“The model brought out here with this cannabis bill is to basically re-do the same model.
“If government can’t control the harm and damage that comes to families through pokie machines and alcohol, how the hell are they going to control the harm that comes from cannabis because I believe it’s a business model that’s putting forward profit over people,” Tanielu said.
Tanielu has said increased consumption of cannabis would damage all four pillars of one’s holistic health.
“Research shows that prolonged use of cannabis, especially at higher THC level has direct impact on suicide, respiratory problems, some mental health issues, psychosis, lung cancer, heart issues and an increase in the number of hospitalisation, so in terms of health for Pacific people, it’s a disaster.”
Tanielu has rejected claims that decriminalising cannabis will mean fewer people will end up in prison.
In August, National leader Judith Collins revealed the entire National party caucus had decided to vote against the Cannabis Legislation and Control Bill in the referendum.
READ MORE: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/427339/pacific-leaders-weigh-in-on-cannabis-referendum

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