The Opportunities Party says cannabis reform can reduce harm and allow personal use
Economist Gareth Morgan's political party says cannabis should be regulated for cultivation, sale, and personal use in New Zealand.
The party's new reform policy, dubbed 'Real Deal', aims to reduce harm from cannabis, the party says.
It says the current legislation is not fit for purpose under the 1975 Misuse of Drugs Act.
"With prohibition of cannabis clearly an abject failure the [policy] will take tens of millions of dollars in profits away from gangs and organised crime and use that money for drug education, addiction treatment and harm prevention."
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The policy says the reform is not about promoting usage of the drug, with its associated mental health risks. Instead, the policy aimed to recognise that abstinence was unrealistic.
"Prohibition flies in the face of popular demand and leads to illicit supply and usage.
"The evidence shows that criminalisation of cannabis has had no significant statistical impact on reducing use, nor is there any evidence that decriminalisation increases use.
"There are better, safer ways to regulate cannabis without the stigmatisation and associated social harm and taxpayer cost imposed by making it illegal."
The approach called for shifting away from cannabis as a criminal justice issue to a health issue.
Legalisation did not necessarily mean liberal availability, according to the policy.
"It is possible to put in place stricter regulation where we can reach a middle ground of reducing harm while allowing a certain freedom of use."
The policy was influenced by a Canadian taskforce, which investigated a new system of legal cannabis, restricted access and regulation.
"The Opportunities Party isn't promoting cannabis use, it's recognising the reality of New Zealand life today where one in 9 of all people have used cannabis in the past year and one in 4 of our 15-24 year olds have.
"Right now, most of those people have to source their cannabis from career criminals who use the profits and customers to engage in further criminal activity."
By removing the supply from gangs, the policy said, an estimated $150 million could be used to prevent harm from drugs, and free up police and justice resources.
Unlicensed cultivation, and dealing, would still be crimes, while a legal environment would include taxable retail cannabis and two plants per person for personal use.