Published on:
Tuesday, April 13, 2021

‘A lack of political courage’: New Zealand’s drug reform efforts flounder

From the outside, the country seems like a likely candidate for progressive drug laws but internally, change is proving hard to bring

After New Zealand’s referendum to legalise cannabis failed, social service agencies across the country are seeking a new path to decriminalisation of drug use, but obstacles are plenty.

On Monday, a broad coalition of social service, advocacy and health organisations released an open letter calling on prime minister Jacinda Ardern to repeal and replace the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 “to ensure drug use is treated as a health and social issue”. Signatories include the New Zealand Medical Association, Public Health Association, Auckland and Wellington City Missions, Mental Health Foundation, and the Māori Law Society, along with 20 others.

Related: New Zealand narrowly votes no to legalising cannabis in referendum

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