In 2019, New Zealand changed the laws on cannabis possession by giving Police the discretion to charge in the first place.

We want our Police to be able to exercise their own judgment and sense of a situation before pursuing a prosecution, charge or arrest. We want to trust our Police in our Communities to grant leniency because we want to build bridges between the Police and our Communities.

How has this experiment in trusting our Police gone?


When you consider Māori are only 17.4% of the population, to have a system built on discretion record 49% of possession charges for Māori (when Cannabis is the most widely used illicit drug in the country) is nothing other than an intrinsically racist process! 

Incredulously while overall numbers of people prosecuted for cannabis possession has been dropping, the proportion of Māori prosecutions is going up!


This is a racist system punishing Māori in a way that everyone else isn’t!

The system has been so racist for such a long time that it infects everything, including the Police on the frontline!

We need to decriminalize cannabis possession and personal use so that the system doesn’t keep punishing Māori the way it always has!

The data doesn’t lie, our laws are racist.


First published on Waatea News.

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