Our Co-Founder Brad's Opinion Letter on the Cannabis Referendum.

Posted by Brad Lake on

Image of Brad Lake at Koaka's Canterbury Hemp Farm

This coming weekend we get to have our say on the New Zealand Cannabis referendum. 

Between our companies The Brothers Green, Ritual and Rise, Kōaka and Original Canvas, we have been working on what our stance is on the upcoming cannabis referendum and what it will mean for our great nation. This referendum is more than just about recreational Cannabis, it is about change, about healing and about our future.

This referendum is about opening access to the incredible variety of therapeutic, medical and economic benefits that various parts of the Cannabis species can provide. For the past 60 years Cannabis and all of its therapeutic, industrial and agricultural outputs have been denied to everyday kiwis. Our vision of our nation finally establishing hemp and all forms of cannabis as an accepted crop, with all its potential uses and outputs, is currently being intentionally clouded and distorted. This referendum is not simply a vote on whether those who already smoke recreational marijuana can do it legally, it is so much greater. This minor aspect of the referendum has somehow been dragged into the limelight and seems to be the basis of everyone’s decision on whether we finally remove the deeply racist, US enforced criminalisation of a plant we have used and evolved with for the past 10,000 years. 

A no vote in this referendum will stifle jobs of up to 35,000 people, who will otherwise remain unemployed.

A no vote is a finger to the democratic system we have built and a continuation of our weakness in being told what to do by another nation. The US has now legalised cannabis in their own country and are reaping the significant rewards while we wallow in their influence of lies and fear.

A no vote will suffocate in its infancy, the industry which uses this plant that we need to regenerate our soils, to take excess carbon out of our struggling atmosphere, to support our rivers and heal our bodies.

This year New Zealand needs to finally say yes.

Yes to the understanding that cannabis is not just recreational marijuana. It's far more about its powerful cousin industrial hemp, with all of its nutritional seed, medicinal leaf and flower, and the industrial fibre. 

It’s a yes to accepting that nature is our greatest and best tool in healing ourselves and the planet. It is a natural medicine for those who are terminally ill. It is a natural anxiety relief for those suffering every day from mental illness. It can support those who suffer seizures and who cannot sleep.

It’s a yes for our farmers to finally use all of their brilliant minds and resources to develop this industry to the highest world standards that we are so used to, in how we grow regeneratively and to the premium quality of what we grow. 

It’s a yes to taking money out of the gangs pockets and seeing police resources spent on violent crime and theft. It’s a yes to seeing drug abuse and the damage it causes as a symptom of a sick society and treated as a health issue, not a criminal act to be punished with time in a cage.

It’s a yes to creating jobs and collecting tax revenue of hundreds of millions of dollars, and  securing the future of tens of 1000’s of young and old New Zealanders now facing unemployment and a bleak future.

Finally, it’s a yes to an open mind, to being able to weigh up the evidence, the facts and being able to change our minds. We need an intelligent nation who can accept that we will not always make the right decisions, but we know that when better evidence and science comes along we can move with the times.

It is so morally and fundamentally wrong to not be able to use every part of the hemp plant, just because it looks like it’s cousin marijuana. There is no scientific or justifiable reason for hemp to be in the misuse of drugs act, or for us to be so limited and suffocated in using it. This is why a yes vote is so important. It will remove the last possible reason they have to keep hemp from us, to keep hemp from our farmers fields, from our medicine cupboards and from us using the entire plant to secure a sustainable future of our nation.

Vote yes Aotearoa, for our planet and people.

Ngā mihi nui,

Brad Lake. 

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