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Former New Zealand Prime Minister supports recreational cannabis



Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark called on Kiwis (an expression that internationally identifies New Zealanders) to vote in favor of legalizing cannabis for recreational purposes in the referendum that takes place next year.

Clark recently created a think tank called “The Helen Clark Foundation” and has just published a report called “The Case for YES”. The report recommends eliminating minor cannabis convictions as well as regulating a legal market where cannabis is traded responsibly.

“Isn't this [the current focus] a waste of the justice system's time and money?” said Helen Clark. “Don't the police have better things to do? Will we not be able to face the reality that 80% of kiwis will use cannabis at some point in their lives?”

Clark led the country from 1999 to 2008, being the 37th to serve as prime minister. Had she won a fourth term, Helen Clark claims she would have sought to legalize recreational cannabis use.

However, your government has not significantly advanced cannabis policy, while the current government has decided that citizens should choose whether adult cannabis use should be allowed. Citizens will be able to vote on whether or not recreational cannabis should be legalized in a referendum that will take place on the same day as the New Zealand general election (possibly a year from now, around September 2020).

New Zealand has one of the highest levels of cannabis use in the world, according to the World Drug Report. New Zealand legalized the use of medical cannabis in 2017 and the industry is starting to take shape. The Helen Clark Foundation believes that New Zealand should follow in the footsteps of Uruguay, Canada and several US states, which have adopted a more mature attitude towards cannabis use.

She claims that a “yes” vote in 2020 will advance public health goals and promote greater social equity. She adds that the ban does not work, cannot eradicate consumption, and that it is a waste of police time, which disproportionately punishes the indigenous Maori community.

The former prime minister wants to see New Zealand recognize the use of cannabis as a social and public health issue, and not as a criminal one, as the Portuguese model advocates. Clark insists that decriminalization is not enough and that New Zealand must study developments in Uruguay and North America before starting a regulated commercial industry.

In addition to these measures, Clark also advocates that the individuals and communities most affected by the ban should benefit from the changes in the law, allowing them a fair opportunity to become retail sellers and producers. Clark warned that large for-profit cannabis conglomerates should not dominate New Zealand's cultivation and trade.


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