Drug expert concerned about potency, cost of cannabis if legalisation bill passes

More work needs to be done to straighten the proposed Cannabis Legislation and Control Bill, according to a call from a drug policy expert.

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Massey University associate professor Dr Chris Wilkins says more work still needs to be done to straighten out the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill. Source: Breakfast

Massey University associate professor Dr Chris Wilkins told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning, while it's a strong bill, there's a range of gaps in the upcoming referendum including the minimum price for the drug and potency.

"Some of the big regulatory levers are going to be price potency and who can sell cannabis," he said.

"In terms of price, you think given the experience overseas of declining legal price of cannabis, quite significantly up to 50 per cent, that a minimum price for cannabis would be really important to introduce.

"And the bill does have a potency cap of 15 per cent, but we think really that's at the upper level of the black market and that could be a little bit lower."

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The Prime Minister's chief science adviser Juliet Gerrard says the website will give a well-rounded overview of both sides of the debate to help people decide how to vote. Source: Breakfast

In the referendum to legalise recreational cannabis, to be voted on in September, the law would allow people to buy up to 14 grams of dried cannabis per day from licensed outlets.

It would also set out jail terms for selling to people under the age of 20.

"There is some real advantages from legalising cannabis and the main area is in criminal justice so basically not arresting, convicting people, particularly Māori who tend to be targeted through drug enforcement, and that's a real benefit," Dr Wilkins added.

"Some people are very unlucky and they end up with a cannabis conviction that lasts their entire life, so there's good reasons for legalising cannabis. But we've got to be really careful about the regulatory regime we end up with.

"As I said, the big levers are making sure the price is high, low potency and thinking really carefully about who's going to end up selling this and is it going to be overly commercialised?"

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The National Party MP has fears usage will go up among young people, but the Green' MP says the now-illegal drug needs to be regulated. Source: Breakfast