Pot ‘could be treated like pokie trusts’

Central Leader - - OUT & ABOUT - CATHER­INE HAR­RIS

‘‘The con­ver­sa­tion's moved to what would that re­form look like.’’

Non-profit so­ci­eties could sell cannabis in the same way as the regime that runs pokie ma­chines, a Massey Univer­sity re­search pa­per has sug­gested.

The re­port’s au­thor said gambling ma­chines had been run in New Zealand for over 20 years by trusts, which last year paid out $260 mil­lion to the com­mu­nity, and the same could be done if recre­ational cannabis was le­galised.

As­so­ciate pro­fes­sor Chris Wilkins said he en­vis­aged the so­ci­eties would whole­sale cannabis to li­censed re­tail out­lets.

Wilkins, who leads the drug re­search team at Massey’s col­lege of health, said un­der his model, cannabis so­ci­eties would be re­quired to pay a fifth of the sales rev­enue to drug treat­ment, a fifth to com­mu­nity groups, and a fifth to the Gov­ern­ment in levies.

In­de­pen­dent grant com­mit­tees would al­lo­cate grants to drug treat­ment and com­mu­nity groups, and there would be a re­quire­ment to dis­trib­ute the grants in the re­gions where the sales were made

A fur­ther 10 per cent would be paid to fund re­search into the health risks of cannabis

Wilkins said un­der this model, ad­ver­tis­ing of cannabis would be re­stricted to the re­tail out­let only, and no in­ter­net sales would be al­lowed.

Lo­cal coun­cils would have the power to de­ter­mine the num­ber, lo­ca­tion and open­ing hours of cannabis re­tail out­lets in their ar­eas.

A key part of Wilkin’s model was to set the le­gal min­i­mum price of cannabis, which need only to be around the higher black mar­ket price to be ef­fec­tive.

New Zealand Drug Foun­da­tion ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Ross Bell said while cannabis could be a good rev­enue earner for the Gov­ern­ment, money wasn’t the rea­son it should be le­galised.

‘‘The main rea­son that you would want to change your drug law is to stop crim­i­nal­is­ing young peo­ple and Maori for some­thing I think we all agree is a health is­sue,’’ Bell said.

Bell said le­gal­i­sa­tion should be done with heavy reg­u­la­tion and an age re­stric­tion, and with doc­tors now able to pre­scribe medic­i­nal mar­i­juana, he felt the po­lit­i­cal winds were shift­ing in recre­ational mar­i­juana’s favour.

‘‘The thing we’re all do­ing now is not talk­ing about should we reg­u­late cannabis or not, the con­ver­sa­tion’s moved to what would that re­form look like.’’

GRANT MATTHEW/FAIR­FAX NZ

A purely com­mer­cial model for le­gal cannabis could cre­ate an ag­gres­sive mar­ket­ing drive.

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