By Tuari Potiki / Stuff
OPINION: When the cannabis referendum failed despite being so close, my daughter, having watched me over decades fight for health-based, fair drug laws, wrote something on Facebook that has compelled me to write this as the departing chairperson of the NZ Drug Foundation.
My tamāhine, in justifiable, youthful anger, said the laws we have are ‘’racist, because they unjustly criminalise us as Māori, because they’re outdated … I know everyone will be a bit gutted tonight but I just wanted to say ... I’m really really proud of you, Dad …’’
Her words and the outcome hit me hard and made me realise how deeply personal the lack of progress on drug harm in New Zealand is for me and for many Māori.
Like many young Māori men, I obtained drug convictions in my youth that have haunted me my entire life. Even though it’s been 34 years since my last drug conviction, it’s still making my life difficult.
As one particularly ironic example, when I was asked to speak at the United Nations about drug law reform, it took seven months to get permission to enter the US.