Weed a ‘huge is­sue’ for young vot­ers

Central Leader - - WHAT’S ON - BENN BATHGATE

It’s called a ‘gate­way’ drug by some, and Gareth Mor­gan be­lieves cannabis de­crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion will be a gate­way for young vot­ers - straight to the bal­lot box.

Speak­ing dur­ing the Ro­torua leg of his Op­por­tu­ni­ties Party roadshow last week, Mor­gan said he would shortly an­nounce pro­pos­als to change the law on cannabis in New Zealand, claim­ing their re­search found that was the num­ber one is­sue that would get young peo­ple to vote.

Asked di­rectly whether he was about to ad­vo­cate de­crim­i­nal­is­ing cannabis, Mor­gan said ‘‘some­thing along those lines’’.

He stopped short of call­ing for a weed free for all, how­ever.

‘‘That’s [de­crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion] what they’re all bay­ing for,’’ he said.

‘‘But what we know is that mar­i­juana with un­de­vel­oped brains does dam­age so you can’t just say I’m go­ing to de­crim­i­nalise it.

‘‘You’ve got to have a mas­sive in­vest­ment in ed­u­ca­tion. You don’t want to go in­flict­ing stuff on your kids so it’s struc­tur­ing that will be the is­sue.

‘‘It’s a huge is­sue for them [young vot­ers] so I’m just go­ing to re­spond to it, but I’m not go­ing to be stupid and say some­thing ir­re­spon­si­ble.

‘‘What we’ve been do­ing is pulling to­gether all the re­search on it and try­ing to get some­thing sen­si­ble.’’

Mor­gan used the roadshow to out­line a num­ber of key Op­por­tu­ni­ties Party poli­cies, fo­cus­ing on tax re­form and ef­forts to tackle poverty.

He said that New Zealand’s cur­rent tax sys­tem made it very easy to ac­cu­mu­late wealth - pro­vided you’re al­ready wealthy.

‘‘I go to bed each night and wake up richer,’’ he said.

‘‘I make so much money in a year I can’t spend it all with­out be­ing ob­scene.’’

Mor­gan’s so­lu­tion was to change the ‘un­fair’ in­come tax sys­tem and im­pose a flat tax on as­sets, in­clud­ing prop­erty.

He said hous­ing mar­ket in­vest­ment cre­ated noth­ing, was pric­ing the young out of homes and putting the squeeze on renters.

Mor­gan said the tax re­bal­ance would also see a 30 per cent re­duc­tion in tax rates.

He said when he ac­quired his first house the mort­gage was three times the av­er­age salary. It’s eight times now, 11 for Auck­land.

‘‘This policy ad­dresses that is­sue.’’ di­rectly

GRANT MATTHEW/FAIRFAX NZ

Gareth Mor­gan claims cannabis will be the cat­a­lyst to make youth vote.

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