© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2021

Health, not handcuffs for drug users

Connor Stirling

Drug use is currently considered a criminal issue, but a new movement wants to change that.

There are fresh calls to treat drug use as a health issue, rather than a criminal one.

Seven organisations; including the New Zealand Drug Foundation, have combined to create a new movement named Health not Handcuffs.

“We are calling on the Prime Minister to double investment in alcohol and other drug-related prevention, harm reduction and treatment in Budget 2019," Ross Bell, executive director of the NZ Drug Foundation says.

According to the Foundation, the current use of the criminal justice system is punitive and heartless.

"This has caused a lot of harm, especially to young people and Māori."

Next year's referendum on the legalisation of cannabis is a focal point for the campaign.

Along with the New Zealand Drug Foundation, Health not Handcuffs is made up of ActionStation, Hapai te Hauora, JustSpeak, Needle Exchange, Te Rau Ora and the Wellington Community Justice Project.