MP: Al­low pot crims role in in­dus­try

Greens’ Swar­brick coun­ters Nats

Hawke's Bay Today - - Nation - Derek Cheng

Peo­ple who have prior con­vic­tions for cannabis should be able to sup­ply le­gal medic­i­nal cannabis and, if recre­ational use be­came le­gal, be of­fered a clean slate, Green MP Chloe Swar­brick says.

Swar­brick’s com­ments fol­low an email ex­change — re­leased to the Na­tional Party un­der the Of­fi­cial In­for­ma­tion Act — show­ing the Greens had asked Health Min­istry of­fi­cials to look at pro­pos­als for medic­i­nal cannabis leg­is­la­tion, in­clud­ing one that would “al­low in­di­vid­u­als with pre­vi­ous drug con­vic­tions to man­u­fac­ture cannabis”.

The Greens’ pro­posal never came be­fore the House, but that door has not closed.

Who should be el­i­gi­ble to sup­ply medic­i­nal cannabis will be a key as­pect of the Gov­ern­ment’s new reg­u­la­tory frame­work, which will be in place by the end of the year fol­low­ing pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion.

Na­tional’s health spokesman Shane Reti said medic­i­nal cannabis man­u­fac­tur­ers and em­ploy­ees should be “fit and proper per­sons”.

Na­tional has pro­posed that no one should be el­i­gi­ble to make medic­i­nal cannabis if, among other things:

■ They have been con­victed of any dru­gre­lated or dis­hon­esty crime, or any crime pun­ish­able by at least two years’ jail.

■ They have been “ad­dicted or ha­bit­u­ated” to the use of a con­trolled drug, pre­scrip­tion medicine or re­stricted medicine.

■ They have been bank­rupt. ■ Their per­sonal asso­ciations, such as gang mem­bers, should dis­qual­ify them.

“The in­dus­try was adamant that it un­der­stood the need to be ab­so­lutely squeaky clean in this new in­dus­try and they were up for that,” Reti said.

“The Greens have lis­tened to one ver­sion of the plead­ings from East Coast-based Hiku­rangi En­ter­prises [which has a li­cence for medic­i­nal cannabis]and ig­nored the rest of the in­dus­try, who were com­pletely be­hind the fit-and­proper-per­sons re­quire­ments.”

He called the Greens “soft on drugs” but Swar­brick, the Green Party’s spokes­woman for drug law re­form, dis­missed this as “clas­sic Na­tional Party hys­te­ria”.

“If you’re con­victed of some­thing while it is il­le­gal, you serve your time,” Swar­brick told the Her­ald.

“If that sub­stance then be­comes le­gal and reg­u­lated and you jump through the same hoops ev­ery­one else does, why shouldn’t you eq­ui­tably be able to en­gage in that mar­ket?”

The peo­ple who have been dis­pro­por­tion­ately pe­nalised by the war on drugs shouldn’t be ex­cluded from par­tic­i­pat­ing in a le­gal mar­ket, she said.

She had vis­ited Hiku­rangi and spo­ken with peo­ple tak­ing a course at the Eastern In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy’s Ru­a­to­ria Re­gional Learn­ing Cen­tre on hemp pro­duc­tion.

“Some of them have gone away for that sub­stance and have served their time and are now they’re look­ing to use their skills and in­vest in their com­mu­nity. And this is a mas­sive eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity for them.”

It was Green Party pol­icy to have re­gard for eq­uity and so­cial jus­tice in drug law re­form, but she said it was not yet party pol­icy to al­low those with pre­vi­ous cannabis con­vic­tions to work in the medic­i­nal cannabis mar­ket.

“Reg­u­la­tions could po­ten­tially in­cor­po­rate things like that, so the door isn’t closed on that,” she said.

“I guar­an­tee we will have dis­cus­sions on that point [dur­ing the Gov­ern­ment’s pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion process] and it’s some­thing that should be dis­cussed with ma­tu­rity.”

Cur­rently, li­cences for medic­i­nal cannabis are only is­sued for med­i­cal or sci­en­tific re­search.

A bind­ing ref­er­en­dum on le­gal­is­ing cannabis for per­sonal use will take place at the 2020 elec­tion.

PHOTO / FILE

Who should be el­i­gi­ble to grow and sup­ply medic­i­nal cannabis will be a key as­pect of the Gov­ern­ment’s new reg­u­la­tory frame­work.

Chloe Swar­brick

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