NZ Herald 26 January 2019
The 2020 referendum to legalise cannabis looks likely to propose a tightly regulated framework, including strict rules on supply and possession, an age limit of at least 18, and a non-profit model where money from sales may be funnelled into health services.
And while it is widely accepted that legalising personal use would not eliminate harm or kill off a black market, a political consensus appears to be emerging that the status quo is broken, but a profit-driven legal market would be just as bad.
Justice Minister Andrew Little said the Government was still working on the referendum question, but he personally opposed to a framework similar to alcohol if the public voted for legalisation in 2020.
“My general view would be, if there is an appetite for liberalisation in whatever form, to start with maximum regulation and control,” Little told the Weekend Herald.
“That’s the way you mitigate the risks, and then future generations can review what’s happening and whether further relaxation is needed.”
This sentiment was echoed by NZ First justice spokesman Darroch Ball, who said the level of cannabis-related harm in a black market dominated by gangs showed that the current system was not working.
“But we all understand that marijuana is a drug, and it’s not all positives.
“It’s just common sense to start at a more conservative, regulated market. Once you have no regulation, the horse has bolted and there’s no coming back.”
He added that the NZ First caucus was yet to make any decisions about the referendum question.
Green Party spokeswoman for drug law reform Chloe Swarbrick said a black market and a legal free market both “preyed on vulnerable people”.