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Ed Sheeran

Reefer madness on East Coast

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National’s East Coast candidate is sounding the alarm on the cannabis referendum.

Tania Tapsell says the two major issues that have emerged on the campaign trail are unemployment and methamphetamine.

She says making cannabis legal could expose people to stronger drugs.

"If it’s legalised the gangs that are currently selling marijuana and cannabis will continue to increase the THC in that so people will still purchase off them and unfortunately we do know some of the cannabis that has been purchased illegally is laced with methamphetamine," Ms Tapsell says.

Tanya Tapsell says people are also concerned about a proliferation of cannabis shops, an increase in drug driving, and the impact on jobless numbers if people fail drug tests.

But Ngāti Kahungunu chair Ngahiwi Tomoana says a yes vote in the cannabis referendum will make it easier to manage the drug’s positive and negative aspects.

Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated is backing cannabis legalisation and also supporting efforts by its subsidiaries to explore commercial opportunities with both hemp and medical cannabis.

Mr Tomoana says Māori have been disproportionally affected by enforcement of cannabis laws, and his board believes use should be a personal choice rather than a criminal activity.

It’s also a health choice.

"We believe there's enough evidence to show the health benefits are hugely advantageous not just to Māori but to everyone with tests in places like Germany, the United States and Canada showing the positive effects it has on people," Mr Tomoana says.

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