Hopes high for Dunedin 'cannabis capital' plan

Two organisations behind a joint venture Cannabis Museum in Dunedin want to see the city become Dunsterdam, the cannabis capital of the South Pacific.

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party and Otago Cannabis lobby group Otago Norml want to achieve the status for Dunedin by opening New Zealand's first Cannabis Museum and launch a charitable trust in Dunedin this month.

The function of the museum would remain within the law, says Julian Crawford, who is setting up the facility with well-known Dunedin cannabis lobbyist Abe Gray.

It would comprise displays and information designed to educate on aspects of cannabis use and to lobby for cannabis to be legalised. Some merchandise, such as T shirts, would be sold to raise funds for the campaign.

"We've had this concept of Dunsterdam, the Amsterdam of the South Pacific," Mr Crawford said, adding that the Dutch capital, which has legalised the sale of cannabis to adults, was doing very well out of the resulting trade.

"We've been following what is happening in Amsterdam for a while. The model there has reduced use [of cannabis] by teenagers by having an age restriction and regulating the market.

"It actually gets quite a few tourists buying cannabis and contributing to the local economy."

Mr Crawford said the two groups involved also had a strong presence on the campus of Otago University and wanted to move into offices to increase the profile of the campaign to legalise cannabis.

If the political lobby was successful in achieving legalisation of cannabis in New Zealand, it was hoped the Government would follow the Dutch model.

Mr Crawford said the Dunedin venture was also aware of a new leniency towards the sale of cannabis in some areas of the United States, where authorities have given it the green light by basically turning a blind eye.

He said his group was in the process of forming a charitable trust to enhance its ability to raise funds. It was hoped that would be achieved within weeks.

The Southland Times