Gareth Morgan's The Opportunities Party (TOP) is cannibalising minor party stalwart the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party (ALCP).
ALCP President Abe Gray is resigning his office to join TOP, saying the Cannabis Party does not have a future. He is urging members of his former party to join him. "It's been eclipsed," he told The AM Show.
"The Cannabis Party - no one's really taken it that seriously recently, but it had to exist because none of the other parties were prepared to speak up about the cannabis issue, and it's a very important issue in New Zealand."
He is throwing his support behind The Opportunities Party to help it reach the five percent threshold needed to enter parliament without winning an electorate seat.
In the three elections since 2008, around 10,000 people voted for the Cannabis Party.
"The only people who have a real policy that is workable and that are willing to campaign on it aggressively is The Opportunities Party, and they have exclipsed the Cannabis Party," Mr Gray said.
"All the other parties were worried about their political appearances, but especially the Greens, who have historically taken up that issue."
The Green Party's drug policy would see cannabis, including culivation, legalised for personal use. The Greens say overseas evidence would be assesed to determine the best model for New Zealand.
The Opportunities Party's cannabis policy would see a taxable retail trade established and would allow each person to grow two plants for personal use. Unlicensed culivation and dealing would still be a crime.
Mr Gray said it is "exactly the policy [he] would have written if [he] had the resources of an economic policy think-tank like Gareth [Morgan] does."
The Opportunities Party cannabis policy would:
- License suppliers to encourage small-scale regional supply and regulate the potency of supply.
- Use a tax (based on THC potency) and minimum price to ensure the price doesn't fall.
- Allow retail sales only through Cannabis Licensing Trusts (local charities) or a Government online store. It will not be sold in the same outlets as alcohol.
- Ensure the placement of retail outlets (if any) will be subject to local authority regulation.
- Use revenue generated by the tax and profits of the Trusts (estimated at $150m) for education, after school projects for youth, treatment of addiction for all drugs and regulation to control demand.
- Allow home growing of up to two plants.
- Set the legal age of purchase & use at 20 and ensure education campaigns discourage use until 25.