Pot ‘could be treated like pokie trusts’
‘‘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.’’
A purely commercial model for legal cannabis could create an aggressive marketing drive.