Cannabis referendum: What about personal freedom and individual rights?Posted by On

OPINION: Much of the debate on New Zealand’s referendum on recreational cannabis legalisation has focused on health, the economy, criminal justice and the uncertainties about the impact on youth and adult use.

But one argument is oddly missing from the debate — personal freedom, autonomy and individual rights.

This is striking, because the issue of personal liberties has traditionally been at the forefront of cannabis reform activism. At the heart of all public health laws is the conflict between the powers of the state and the individual’s liberty, privacy and autonomy.

In the past two years, constitutional courts in several countries have ruled the prohibition of use, possession and private cultivation of cannabis interferes with an individual’s right to privacy. They’ve said protecting public health and security does not justify state punishment.

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