The Dominion Post

Say Nope to Dope celebrates right result

- JoelMacMan­us

Opponents of cannabis reform are celebratin­g an apparent win after preliminar­y referendum results showed 53.1 per cent of votes against the Cannabis Legalisati­on and Control Bill.

Special votes released next week will likely narrow the margin but would need more than 69 per cent in favour to swing the outcome.

Aaron Ironside, of Say Nope to Dope NZ, was confident that special votes would not be enough to overturn the result. ‘‘It’s the right result, it’s the result of common sense. Ordinary Kiwis have realised there was no way legalisati­on would decrease the amount of cannabis being consumed.’’

After the result was announced, supporters of the ‘‘yes’’ vote, including the New Zealand Drug Foundation, have called on the Government to pursue decriminal­isation or other drug reforms in the next year.

Ironside said the status quo had already been disrupted with new medical cannabis laws and a change to the Misuse of Drugs Act last year, which took a more health-based approach to drug possession charges.

‘‘I think we’ve had enough law change for now,’’ Ironside said.

He said the group’s campaign had success arguing that legalisati­on would increase cannabis use.

‘‘We stuck to clarifying what it would actually mean for us. A lot of people were confused that it was about medicinal cannabis. We were able to point to overseas examples which showed legalisati­on did not reduce use,’’ he said.

National Party drug spokespers­on Nick Smith called it a ‘‘common sense victory for New Zealand being safer and healthier’’.

‘‘Proponents like the Green Party, Helen Clark and many Government ministersm­ust accept New Zealand’s rejection of recreation­al cannabis. The way forward is a firm enforcemen­t approach against drug dealers (particular­ly gangs), increased access for treatment and rehab for users, expansion of specialist drug courts and improved education on drug harm to reduce uptake,’’ he said in a statement on Facebook.

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