Cannabis bill would provide timely economic boost

A final draft of the Cannabis Legalisation & Control Bill has been released today. If successful, New Zealanders could purchase or grow cannabis for personal use. Commercial opportunities would be disbursed across the country, including small and large-scale cultivation, retail and cannabis café businesses.

Dry cannabis flower – Helius
“This legislation would deliver significant tax revenue for healthcare, create jobs, and provide many opportunities for new businesses – an increasingly attractive prospect for many Kiwis given the economic fallout from Covid-19,” says Paul Manning, Chief Executive of Helius Therapeutics.

He was responding to the Government’s final draft Cannabis Legalisation & Control Bill released today by Justice Minister Andrew Little – to be enacted if New Zealanders support legalising personal use cannabis at September’s binding referendum.

Yesterday NZIER published a paper showing cannabis prohibition has failed and regulation would generate $490m in tax for New Zealand.

“Without doubt this legislation would provide a timely economic ‘shot in the arm’, with the Government keen to distribute the benefits equitably across the country, enabling opportunities for small players right through to sophisticated businesses. Regulation could well and truly aid in New Zealand’s economic recovery after Covid-19,” says Mr Manning.

He says as well as boosting tax revenue, regulation would deliver quality product standards and a safer, more open environment for the 320,000 Kiwis currently forced to break the law every day.

“If enacted, this would deal a significant blow to the gangs who currently have a stranglehold on cannabis. The referendum is ultimately about who controls the cannabis market. It’s either gangs or government.

“This is a cautious, health-based approach. Under these regulations, all stages of the growing and supply chain will be strictly licensed and controlled, with substantial revenue to be redirected back into the health sector,” he says.

Recently, Helius released the findings of a February survey of 1,986 adult New Zealanders - the fifth in a series of comprehensive surveys tracking nationwide opinion on cannabis law reform conducted by Horizon Research.

Cannabis Sativa plant in flower – Helius

The independent survey revealed 83% don’t believe the prohibition of personal cannabis use is working, and 72% say having controls for growing and selling cannabis for personal use would be better for society. It also showed 54% would vote for legalising the personal use of cannabis in September’s referendum.

“Kiwis are clearly unified in their belief that prohibition is failing, and controls would be preferable. If youth turn-out is up and the messaging is right, the referendum result could be close. Proponents need to start talking more about the benefits of introducing regulatory control and hitting the gangs where it hurts. This is what the majority of New Zealanders want,” he says.

With the final draft of the Cannabis Legalisation & Control Bill now released, Mr Manning says those who remain unsure need to take a closer look of the prudent and pragmatic provisions within the legislation.

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