Community and non-profit models of cannabis regulation preferred by public - study

Community managed and non-commercial approaches to cannabis law reform are gaining support from the public compared to fully commercial models, according to a pilot study by Massey University that looked at potential options for regulating recreational cannabis.

Source: 1 NEWS

It comes as the country is set to see a referendum on the legalisation of cannabis at the 2020 election. 

The research analysed the potential of applying a community alcohol trust model in the regulation of cannabis. 

It surveyed people from Invercargill and West Auckland, two areas in New Zealand where Licensing Trusts "have a
near-monopoly right to operate off-license alcohol retail outlets and taverns in their districts", the study reads.

Sixty-two per cent of those surveyed chose combined approaches for grow-your-own, not-for-profit and community trusts, government monopoly and restricted sale through pharmacies, 23 per cent chose a commercial profit-driven market and 15 per cent preferred prohibition regimes. 

Of those in the combined approach, home growing and production of cannabis for personal use gained the highest support when asked the preferred policy approach to recreational cannabis, with 27 per cent.

It was followed by restricted availability via pharmacies or under doctor supervision at 17 per cent, commercial profit-driven market similar to alcohol at 12 per cent and a community trust model at 11 per cent. 

Dr Marta Rychert said there is a range of options for cannabis regulation, however there was little evidence of public preference on reform models. 

"Our findings indicate significant support for non-commercial and community-managed approaches to cannabis regulation, as opposed to profit-driven commercial markets," she said.

"The distribution of profits from cannabis sales back to local communities was the most valued element of applying the trust model for legal cannabis, followed by the increased ability to restrict cannabis sales and availability, and control of the cannabis industry.

"Application of the community trust model for legal cannabis should take into account public opposition to monopoly market regimes."

Dr Rychert said allowing multiple trusts to work in the same district could address the issue of monopoly markets.

The survey was contacted through a targeted Facebook campaign last year in September and October, with 2,379 people completing the survey.