Speaking at the celebration of prophet Wiremu Potiki Ratana’s birthday, an event that marks that start of the political year, Fred Macdonald of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party (ALCP) argued that legalising cannabis would earn more revenue for the Crown and see fewer people imprisoned. Macdonald said the drug was used as a medicine in the time of Jesus Christ.
“Just get on with it, stop making our cannabis convicts political prisoners because that’s what’s going on. The war on drugs, it’s just a whole lot of bullies . . .,” Macdonald said.
Jones, who was in the audience for the speech, then launched a rebuttal when it was his turn to speak, saying drugs and alcohol were a major problem in Maori communities and a religious celebration on a marae was not a place to associate Jesus with cannabis, praise its potential or argue for decriminalisation.
“I wanted to send a message to all the visitors and to Ratana: do not allow your powhiri to be diminished by some half-stoned creature from Macdonald’s farm,” he said.
It was particularly “galling” that a Pakeha man could make such a speech on a marae when Maori women were not accorded that privilege, he said, adding “the vast majority of the Maori there were offended”.
Jones said he had been taken aside by Ratana followers and thanked for his actions.
But Church spokesman Andre Mason said he was disappointed in the actions of both men and defended Macdonald’s right to speak his mind, even if his views were not shared by everyone there.
“That was very inappropriate of Shane doing that. This is not a normal marae like every other marae , . . .This is a place of freedom of speech and he was right to share his thoughts, maybe it would’ve been a bit long but he shared he thoughts.”
I suspect it was the nature of the response, being a personal attack on Macdonald, that didn’t go down so well.