Expert proposes Govt-controlled cannabis

(Massey University)
(Massey University)

A leading Auckland drug researcher is calling for regulated cannabis products to be sold legally in New Zealand.

Massey University's Dr Chris Wilkins would like to see the adoption of a not-for-profit club model for cannabis.

The proposal would see licensed companies permitted to sell Government-approved cannabis products to registered adult members.

Products would only be produced and sold by the Government, ensuring a high price to restrict demand and generating tax revenue to support treatment counselling, health services and enforcement.

"The government will be the only producer and the only seller, and that's a means to keep the price high and also collect tax," says Dr Wilkins.

Approved cannabis providers would also be required to pursue health objectives.

This could include warning of the health risks, and giving information on treatment and counselling to help minimise cannabis-related harm.

Dr Wilkins says it would also help increase the quality of the products. Approved cannabis would contain a minimum level of Cannabidiol -- the non-psychoactive ingredient known for its medicinal benefits -- and limited amounts of THC -- the principal psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

"There's an opportunity to start having a conversation. I think that conversation is important, that we don't make the same mistakes we've made with the commercial market for alcohol and tobacco and we start thinking quite innovatively about how we could handle providing cannabis to some users."

Dr Wilkins' proposal comes ahead of an annual international conference on drug policy being opened by Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne in Auckland next week.