January 27, 2014
Cannabis clouding deeper issues
A clinical psychologist with expertise in cannabis addiction says the debate over decriminalisation is not black and white.
There were heated words at Ratana celebrations last week when Fred Macdonald from the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party used the powhiri to give an extended lecture against cannabis laws.
Paora Joseph, who made a film The Green Screen about Maori cannabis use, says Ratana’s history as a place of healing made it an appropriate place to have the discussion.
But he says the focus on legality means a lot of underlying issues are overlooked.
"A lot of the time our people are using cannabis or they are cultivating cannabis in order to deal with poverty. They’re using cannabis in order to cover up a lot of the pain to do with dislocation, to do with a lack of a sense of identity, to do with the fact there are generations now of our people who have been unemployed and they feel lost within the system," Joseph says
Many of the Maori in prison with cannabis convictions also have convictions for crimes of theft and violence, as well as mental health problems.
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