Rethinking New Zealand’s Racist Drug Laws
Around 40 percent of Māori in jail are there because of minor drug possession or supply charges.20 Nov 2016
This is in spite of the fact that police arrests for drug use have in general decreased by about 40 percent from 2011 to 2015; that police are giving more pre-charge warnings for minor offences; and that the Police have the discretion to give diversions for minor offences like cannabis possession and possessing the tools needed for small-scale growth. It's also in spite of the fact that these factors have heavily influenced a general trend towards more non-Māori people being let off for cannabis use and growth. Which means that Maori have just been left behind.
The way the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 and the Police's discretion are currently set up and interacting forms institutional discrimination against Māori. The NZ Drug Foundation have recognised this issue and are championing it. They're currently embarking on a series of huis throughout the country, starting with their first in Te Taitokerau last weekend in order to get iwi involved in drug reform advocacy and to have Māori voices heard.
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