Maori offered track into legal cannabis industry

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The co-founder of a medical cannabis company says the proposed legislation covering recreational cannabis should allow Māori to get a stake in the industry.

The legislation will be introduced if the public votes in favour of allowing recreational use of the drug in a referendum alongside the September general election.

The draft bill sets a national cap on the amount of cannabis that can be grown and sets heavy penalties for unlawful sale or supply to people under 20.

Manu Caddie from Rua Bioscience says the bill includes specific references to Māori in-licensing and job creation and creates incentives for firms to partner with iwi or Māori communities.

“I think in 2017 half of the prosecutions for minor drug offences were Māori and so Māori have certainly borne the brunt of prohibition and they are trying to use this legislation that legalises cannabis production and consumption to address some of those inequalities in the way prohibition has hurt Māori communities,” he says.

Manu Caddie says a new national cannabis authority will be able to allocate a share of cannabis production to ensure Māori and economically deprived areas are able to fairly participate.

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