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Cannabis related charges

Monday 15 August 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Opinion

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Cannabis related charges

Dear Editor, I want to take this time to thank everyone who voted in favour of the medicinal cannabis referendum. Your yes vote has indicated your faith that the use of medicinal cannabis is acceptable in the Cook Islands.

In this paper, Prime Minister Mark Brown said the overwhelming favourability response to the cannabis referendum will allow the Government to “move very quickly” in legalising medicinal cannabis, which will allow doctors to prescribe it.

That statement by the Prime Minister demonstrates that we can put trust in the Government in being our voice to bring legal high-quality cannabis products that can be prescribed in order to bring relief to so much suffering of our people.

Now that the Cook Islands moves away from the criminalisation of cannabis, giving rise to a major new industry, there remains the basic unfairness forced upon those who have criminal convictions, and those facing future criminal trials for cannabis charges

The time is right to seek redress for the individuals affected by these results to enable them to re-enter society rather than remain imprisoned or face future imprisonment. And it’s time to restore rights that have been forfeited as a ‘consequence’ of those convictions.

The impact of the Cook Islands criminal legal system does not end at the walls of the Arorangi Prison, I humbly ask that the Government erase all criminal cannabis convictions.

There are a lot of options on the table that the Executive Council of the Cook Islands can make this a reality.

An application could be made by a prisoner to the Executive authority for a replacement of a lesser sentence, maybe time served, community service or a pardon. A Clemency Compassionate release to assist individuals seeking in obtaining their freedom and restore fundamental rights. The Government should be focused on those being left behind – our people who continue to be punished for past conduct that is now soon to be legal under the laws of the Cook Islands.

All of these options the Executive Council has the authority to enact would uphold our Constitutional proclamation that we are a God fearing Christian nation.

Now is the time to reform our justice system regarding all cannabis related charges in order to strengthen families, boost our economy and give people a chance at a better life.

Sincerely,

Steve Boggs


Now let’s see the Maori people imprisoned, and still incarcerated for growing it for medicinal reasons released and their charges dropped please, just as quickly.

I speak about the Cook Islands and emphasise Cook Island Maori because sadly these people represent the majority of sentences being served for these crimes in prison here in Rarotonga. As our government (plans to) change these laws I ask them to consider our people in prison who are still in need of now urgent medical attention but were locked up for growing this medicine themselves – a harmless crime.

What will happen to the Cook Islanders in prison for growing marijuana when our country deems it a legal activity? Some thought should go towards their sentencing and reform and I urge our government to improve their lives too, they too are people who need this medicine but in prison will not have access to it.

Let us not forget about the people in our own communities who fell between the cracks here trying to solve their health issues for themselves when that solution didn’t exist here.

Pouarii Jane Tanner

(Facebook)


How many patients in the Rarotonga hospital today are undertaking cannabis medicine or waiting for approval of this Government to produce cannabis medicine. Or is this an excuse for people taking cannabis waiting for it to be legalised in the Cook Islands and all drug dealers in New Zealand and Australia and other Pacific countries will start ordering cannabis or fly into the Cook Islands to smoke it. Cook Islands (will become) a heaven for druggies smoking cannabis.

Taruia Ringiao

(Facebook)