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Cannabis comments insult Maori

Cannabis comments insult Maori

Irresponsible comments on last night's TV2 documentary "Dope: Behind the Smoke" have simply served to reinforce racial stereotypes of Maori drug-taking, Green Maori Affairs spokesperson Metiria Turei said today.

"Willie Jackson, in particular, clearly failed to apply any considered analysis to the issue," said Mrs Turei. "Instead, he perpetuated the myth that Maori are inferior to others in our community. This is unacceptable and irresponsible."

Earlier this year the Christchurch School of Medicine's two-year study "Arrests and Convictions for Cannabis Related Offences in a New Zealand Birth Cohort" showed:

* Maori are more likely to be arrested and convicted for cannabis offences than non-Maori; * Arrest and conviction for cannabis offences does not change patterns of cannabis use and is no deterrent to further use.

The study also found that: "The bias with respect to Maori is of particular concern since it suggests that independently of cannabis use and previous police record, Maori were more likely to be arrested and convicted for cannabis use than non-Maori."

"To put it bluntly, the study finds that our cannabis laws are being applied in a racist fashion," said Metiria Turei. "Maori leaders should not continue to support a law which is clearly prejudiced against Maori.

"We must not accept the continued arrest, conviction and imprisonment of our people but instead demand that the millions of dollars spent on police enforcement be redirected to Maori health care services and, most importantly, education for our rangatahi on responsible use of all drugs, including alcohol and tobacco.

"Our rangatahi need leadership and protection from racism. Maori leaders who fail to provide that protection should be ashamed."

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