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Through the Maze: Just and equitable drug law reform

23 Jul 2019
This article was published 5 years ago. Content may no longer be relevant.
Sep 13, 2019

Through the Maze: Just and equitable drug law reform

Location: Parliament Buildings Wellington
Organiser: NZ Drug Foundation

Voices for Change: Black & white photos of asha bandele, Patrisse Cullors and Deborah Small over an orange background with Through the Maze graphic.

NZ Drug Foundation is delighted to be co-hosting this event with support from eight partner organisations.

Right now, Aotearoa NZ is on the cusp of significant change. The argument that we should treat drug use as a health issue has largely been won. What we have yet to do is consider what a just and equitable approach to drugs looks like, and how drug reform fits within the wider context of the whole criminal justice system.

NZ can get drug law reform right. But it means facing up to the injustice suffered by Māori who have been disproportionately criminalised.  Our 2019 Through the Maze symposium brings two powerful voices for change to New Zealand, to show how we can build justice and equity into any new law, right from the outset. Sold out.

Check out our programme here.

There’s never been a drug law that wasn’t tied to race.

asha bandele | organiser, author of The Prisoner's Wife and When they Call you a Terrorist: A Black

In the USA, racial discrimination and the War on Drugs have seen too many African and Latino Americans unfairly incarcerated. Opponents are fighting to end the injustice. Two influential African American women at the centre of the struggle are joining us to share their knowledge and passion. They are determined and vocal, and they know what it takes to challenge a racist criminal justice system.

It’s widely known that Māori are unfairly carrying the burden of our own War on Drugs. Māori are more likely to be stopped, arrested, convicted and jailed for drug offences. Police have acknowledged their own unconscious bias, and there is evidence of discrimination across the entire criminal justice system.

A drug conviction is for life. Long after the sentence is served, the lasting impact on education, job opportunities, overseas travel, and family relationships can be devastating. It has to stop.

History is watching us. We’re on the right side.

Deborah Small | Executive Director, Break the Chains (USA)

We’re getting there. The Mental Health and Addictions Inquiry and Hāpaitia te Organga Tangata both point to the need for change. And next year’s cannabis referendum will be an unprecedented opportunity to right past wrongs.  

We can build a better system. But it won’t happen by itself. The 2019 Through the Maze parliamentary symposium will help us drive the change this country needs.

Through the Maze symposium programme.

Speakers include:

asha bandeleasha bandele | author & organiser (USA)
deborah smallDeborah Small | Executive Director, Break the Chains (USA)

Helen ClarkRt Hon Helen Clark | Former NZ Prime minister

Moana JacksonMoana Jackson | Lawyer and researcher

Full list of speakers and biographies here.

Symposium themes

The central themes are:

  • Critical understanding of discriminatory drug law in New Zealand and USA
  • Key principles of just and equitable drug law reform
  • Connections between people advocating for change across a range of social justice areas

This event is brought to you by:

Drug Foundation RGB Te Rau Ora Logo 400px  Hapai logo colour web  justspeak web  ActionStation sq 800x800  BORRIN LOGO Transparent cropped thcf cropped  NPMLogo 




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