A bill before Parliament that puts police discretion into law for how to handle drug users could hurt Māori unfairly because of unconscious bias, the Drug Foundation and Māori health advocates say.

Police have been using discretion for low-level drug possession for years, a move that has led to a sharp drop in the number of people being charged and convicted for drug use and possession.

But while Māori make up about 15 per cent of the population, Ministry of Justice statistics show about 40 per cent of those charged and convicted for drug offences are Māori, and that rate

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Ministry of Justice statistics