The NZ Cannabis Debate: Why They Say It Should Be Legalised

Publish Date
Wednesday, 24 August 2016, 2:31PM
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Getty Images

The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research - a group better known for its views on inflation targeting and GDP growth - says New Zealand should move "sooner rather than later" to legalise marijuana which would generate a net gain of $300 million to the government accounts.

Drawing on Treasury research which found that legalising could reap $150 million in new government revenue and reduce spending on drug enforcement by around $180 million, NZIER Principal Economist Peter Wilson concludes that legalisation, combined with heavy taxation, regulation and education would be a better way of reducing social harm from the drug.

"The result should be less use, considerable fiscal savings to the government and the removal of a valuable source of revenue for criminals," he writes. "Prohibition of marijuana, just like prohibition of alcohol before it, has been a costly failure."

Wilson argues that legalisation and taxation of the sale - as opposed to decriminalisation - would have the advantage of allowing to regulators to push the price higher than that at which it is currently available legally.

"We suggest New Zealand move sooner rather than later to implement effective policies based on that evidence," Wilson concludes. The NZIER report (which can be read here) follows a call from a horticultural expert for New Zealand to grab the economic opportunity of law reform.

Last week a Drug Foundation poll found that the majority of New Zealander's support some sort of reform to marijuana laws.



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