As the executive director at Te Tuinga Whanau social services, Tommy Kapai Wilson sees the widespread impact of drugs and addiction first hand.
Tommy says he’s for the decriminalisation of recreational cannabis use, because the stigma around the drug needs to be removed in order to reduce harm.
“Too many families are broken because a parent has been imprisoned for low level cannabis crimes,” says Tommy.
“People turn to synthetics because they can’t afford failing a drug test, or use P because it’s easier to obtain.
“In our organisation, the drug that causes the biggest harm to families is alcohol. Cannabis is way down the Richter-scale and yet it’s more stigmatised.
“We need to stop stigmatising drugs so differently and instead look at why people need to get high in the first place.”
While decriminalising cannabis is a “great start”, the real key to reducing harm is education, says Tommy.
He likens the situation to the ‘ambulance at the bottom of the cliff’ phrase.
“We need to change the drivers in the ambulance and drive away from the cliff. The drivers should be educators, not policemen and hospital workers.
“I’d love to see the 25 marae in Tauranga Moana host drugs and addiction talks, because it’s where Maori feel comfortable. That won’t happen while the stigma remains.”
“We need to ditch clinical language and use ‘locool’ language that tomorrow’s generation can understand.
“They need to learn how to get high on life, so they never have to turn to a substance.”
New Zealand will vote on whether to pass the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill at the election this September. For more information, visit: https://socialink.org.nz/information-about-the-cannabis-legalisation-and-control-referendum/
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