Cannabis Law Reform member survey

Cannabis Law Reform member survey

We had over 200 submissions from our members on cannabis law reform, which put forward a variety of options. We have grouped the options put forward into six broad scenarios as set out below.

We want to know what our wider membership (nearly 3000 people) think of these different scenarios before we consult with the experts in this field to work up the detail (including consulting with Maori who make up 40% of convictions for drug use).

Please take the time to read the different scenarios (make sure you are fully informed!) and then tick the one you most want us to look at.

Please note that these scenarios are high level summaries of member input – the detail of each option is not set in stone at this stage and will be worked up in much more detail. So for at this stage please vote for whichever scenario is closest to what you favour – the next stage will go into a lot more detail.


 

Scenario 1 : Status Quo

No change on the current situation.

Actually nobody suggested this, but it is always an option!

 


 

Scenario 2: Legal, with Loose Regulation (e.g. the Colorado model, or how we treat alcohol)

Possession/ Use

Legal for 18+, can possess up to 28 grams for personal consumption. Consumption is permitted in a manner similar to alcohol, with equivalent offenses prescribed for driving. Consumption in public similar to current public alcohol consumption rules and regulation.

Fines for breaching above requirements – criminal action for intoxication while driving/ working.

Personal Production

Adults can grow up to six marijuana plants (with no more than half being mature flowering plants) privately in a locked space. Strict penalties for resale without licence.

Scale/ Commercial Production

Licences required for commercial sale and production – equivalent of excise bonded area, food safe production – work safe management practises etc.

Distribution and Sale

Registered sales outlets, Duty management, age restrictions, sobriety test for purchase.  Different brands exist, advertising is allowed with some restrictions.

Fines for to supplying to minors, trading without a licence.

Impacts

Criminal Justice System - Freeing up of police and court resources that are currently engaged in low level cannabis prevention. This will greatly reduce the burden of drug enforcement on the Criminal Justice System, freeing up resources to focus elsewhere. Legalisation will drive a significant amount of revenue away from illegal producers, this has the potential to lead them to push harder at other drugs like P to bridge the gap.

Economic - Tax revenue gained from ‘excise’ equivalent tax (based on the unit of intoxication so high potency products pay more), as well as fines for public intoxication, etc. This money could be ploughed back into drug treatment and services for mental health, including providing teens with after school activities which has reduced drug use in Iceland. There will be some increased compliance cost to ensure regulation is adhered to. Export & Tourist industries could benefit – especially from Australia and the United States. A legal industry could also provide benefits for growers in regional economies.

Public Health – This depends on use rates. Use would depend on the tax level; as production costs have fallen in Colorado adult usage has increased. Major public health concern would be increased use by youth, although there is little evidence of this in Colorado. Legislation should have the flow on effect of more education and a higher quality, safer product. Increased public scrutiny and surveillance could result in more cannabis related illness being detected, increasing the cost to the health system. Improved detection isn’t actually a cost per se as the cost already exists.

 


 

Scenario 3: Legal, with Tight Regulation (e.g. Tobacco, or Liquor Licensing Trust model)

Possession/ Use

Legal to possess a small amount (5 grams) for personal use if above 25 Years old. Civil penalties for amounts above what is considered ‘personal use’. Can only be consumed at home or on licensed premises. Fines for breaching above requirements – criminal action for intoxication while driving/ working.

Personal Production

Restricted to a small number of plants for personal use, and only with a licence (similar to a gun licence showing the person is responsible and has a way of protecting the plants). If the amount is deemed enough to supply, strict criminal convictions would apply.

Scale/ Commercial Production

Commercial production limited to licensed operators – strict penalties for any form of illegal production. Quality, chemical make up and strength of product would be strictly regulated (minimum levels of CBD and maximum levels of side effect).

Distribution and Sale

Zero advertising and branding allowed, heavily restricted purchase areas restricted to central or local government controlled/operated dispensaries or website. Ensure that the price remains at or above past levels to ensure usage remains at or below current levels.

Impacts

Criminal Justice System - More stringent conditions could result in alternative illegal markets due to the restrictions on supply. Similar to the problem with purchasing alcohol for minors. May not completely remove the current illegal supply. Should reduce cost and court time for low level offences which will become legal or decriminalised (see variation) resulting in an on the spot fine rather than a court appearance.

Economic - Allow for tax or profit to be collected through dispensaries and recycled to central or local government. This money could be ploughed back into drug treatment and services for mental health, including providing teens with after school activities which has reduced drug use in Iceland. Likely that the tax take would be higher under this option. Potential export market (including tourism). A legal industry could also provide benefits for growers in regional economies.

Public Health - Legalisation will allow for product regulation ensuring a more consistent product which would be produced under health and safety guidelines, reducing the risk of side effects or containing mould or pesticides. Restricting use to over 25 years will help reduce the risk of harmful side effects.

 


 

Scenario 4: Legalise for ‘’Club” use – Spanish example 

This is similar to the tight regulation model above, but with the additional aspect of purchase through local clubs as proposed by Massey’s Dr Chris Wilkins (whose proposals draw on the Spanish experience).

Possession/ Use

Cannabis incorporated societies permitted to legally sell approved cannabis products to registered adult members (members must be registered for 15 days before they can purchase).

Personal Production

No personal production allowed.

Scale/ Commercial Production

Commercial production limited to licensed operators – strict penalties for any form of illegal production. Quality, chemical make up and strength of product would be strictly regulated (minimum levels of CBD and maximum levels of THC).

Distribution and Sale

Clubs must purchase off the government and can only onsell products that are allowed (smoking products would be discouraged to minimise health damage). Purchases are registered and recorded allowing use to be tracked – showing red flags where potential abuse is happening.

Impacts

Criminal Justice System - Criminal Justice System - More stringent conditions could result in alternative illegal markets due to the restrictions on supply. Similar to the problem with purchasing alcohol for minors. May not completely remove the current illegal supply. Should reduce cost and court time for low level offences which will become legal or decriminalised (see variation) resulting in an on the spot fine rather than a court appearance.

Economic – would generate revenue for central or local government but some may be lost through the administration of clubs. This money could be ploughed back into drug treatment and services for mental health, including providing teens with after school activities which has reduced drug use in Iceland. There will be some increased compliance cost to ensure regulation is adhered to. Export & Tourist industries could benefit – especially from Australia and the United States. A legal industry could also provide benefits for growers in regional economies.

Public Health - Clubs would also be required to pursue cannabis health objectives such as disseminating information on the health risks of cannabis, information on local treatment and counselling services, discouraging smoking and preventing the sale and use of cannabis by minors and minimising cannabis related harm and dependency.The club system will allow for tracking, usage rates, and other data to be used to reduce the risk of abuse. Monthly personal limits are an option.

 


 

Scenario 5: Legalise for medical purposes

Possession/ Use

Only legal through prescription, use to be restricted to private residences, illegal to possess without a medical certificate. The risk is that overseas this has placed incredible pressure on the medical profession to provide a medical certificate, often in dubious circumstances.

Personal Production

Production restricted to commercial supplier to Pharmac.

Scale/ Commercial Production

Licensed commercial facilities can supply Pharmac. Quality, chemical make up and strength of product would be strictly regulated (minimum levels of CBD and maximum levels of THC).

Distribution and Sale

Limited to Government distribution for health related reasons

Impacts

Criminal Justice System - Criminal conviction for breach of the above conditions. Can be difficult to enforce however if prescriptions become ubiquitous as they did in California.

Economic - A highly-regulated production market for government supply could extend to international markets as a high-quality export, with subsequent benefits for growers in regional economies. Costs of prevention and drug related crime should remain similar to current levels. No taxation revenue benefits.

Public Health - Anticipate minimal change to current spending on health related issues. 

 


 

Scenario 6: Decriminalisation – South Australian & Netherlands model

Possession/ Use

Decriminalised for possession of up to 5 grams (in case of a police control it is still confiscated), for public use. Above this level remains an offence as is possession of equipment connected with smoking or consumption. The penalty is a fine rather than any form of conviction (police have discretion to issue on the spot fine). Possession above 28 grams is considered dealing and still has criminal convictions.

Personal Production

Cultivating no more than 1 plant will result in a fine rather than any form of conviction (police have discretion to issue on the spot fine). Above one plant will result in a criminal conviction.

Scale/ Commercial Production

Higher penalty, even for personal use, if quantity exceeds 1 plant. Any form of commercial production remains a criminal offence.

Distribution and Sale

Any indication that use above a personal level is considered a criminal offence.  

Impacts

Criminal Justice System - Reduce reliance on legal system for low level use would free up some resources for focussing on other drugs/ offenses.

Economic - Similar compliance cost to status quo.

Public Health - Public health care costs should remain similar to current levels.  

Which scenario do you most want us to look at?