Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


Could ‘cannabis clubs’ work in New Zealand?

Could ‘cannabis clubs’ work in New Zealand?

Leading drug researcher Dr Chris Wilkins from Massey University’s SHORE and Whariki Research Centre is calling for the adoption of a not-for-profit club model for cannabis, allowing regulated cannabis products to be sold legally. His proposal foreshadows an annual international conference on drug policy being hosted by Massey next week.

Under the proposal, Cannabis Incorporated Societies (CIS) will be permitted to legally sell approved cannabis products to registered adult members, but will also be required to pursue cannabis health objectives such as disseminating information on the health risks of cannabis, information on local treatment and counselling services, preventing the sale and use of cannabis by minors and minimising cannabis related harm and dependency.

“Increasingly around the world there’s a growing appetite for drug policy innovation,” Dr Wilkins says.

“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.”

Approved cannabis products will have a limit to the amount of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol – the principal psychoactive ingredient in cannabis) allowed, and a required minimum level of CBD (Cannabidiol – the non-psychoactive ingredient, known for its medicinal benefits).

They 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.”

In Colorado, where cannabis has been legal for the past two years, the state government has collected $211 million (US$) in revenue from taxes, licenses and fees on cannabis.

“The Incorporated Societies will only be able to sell the government approved healthier forms of cannabis, meaning non-smoking products, so edibles, liquids that can be vaporised, things like that,” Dr Wilkins says. This will address the health risks from smoking cannabis.

The not-for-profit club model for a legal cannabis market avoids the commercial profit-driven market currently in place for the sale of alcohol and tobacco, he says. “Cannabis Incorporated Societies are a middle ground option. The sale and taxation of approved cannabis products by the government will provide tax revenue to support drug treatment services and to fund enforcement against remaining black market cannabis sales.”

Research suggests the health risks from moderate cannabis use are comparable to moderate alcohol use. “There’s a bit of hypocrisy that we’re giving knighthoods to people that sell alcohol but we are putting people who sell cannabis in jail.”

Dr Wilkins, who heads the illegal drug research team at SHORE, holds a doctorate in Economics with research expertise in drug trends, drug markets, drugs and crime, legal highs and drug policy. For the past 10 years he has completed many studies of drug use in New Zealand including methamphetamine, cannabis, legal highs, ecstasy and the non-medical use of pharmaceuticals.

He warns some cannabis users are unlikely to use the clubs. “I think we should accept that. But the main thing is, it will suck a lot of demand out of the black market through the use of Incorporated Societies.”

The issue, sweeping across policy-makers desks worldwide, continues to be hotly debated in New Zealand, and will be a key focus at the 10th Annual Conference of the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy (ISSDP) being held in Devonport, Auckland on May 11-12.

The theme, Regulating drug use: beyond prohibition and legalisation will explore innovative regulatory responses to new psychoactive substances and cannabis, which are in the middle ground between total prohibition at one end of the scale and unregulated commercial markets at the other end.

The conference will feature international speakers on different policy approaches to drug use, legal regimes for cannabis in the United States, cannabis clubs in Europe, decriminalisation approaches and legal regulated markets for New Psychoactive Substances in New Zealand. The conference will be opened by Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne.


Professor Beau Kilmer - RAND, United States
Cannabis Legalisation 2016: Understanding the policy landscape and design considerations.

Professor Tom Decorte - Ghent University, Belgium
Domestic cannabis cultivation and cannabis social clubs in Europe: Implications for cannabis regulation.

Professor Alex Stevens - University of Kent, United Kingdom
Decriminalisation in action: Portugal and beyond.

Professor Peter Reuter - University of Maryland, United States
Assessing Blanket Bans on New Psychoactive Substances: Can the Nuclear Option Work?

Professor Simon Lenton - Curtin University, Australia
Viagra® anyone?: Overcoming impotence in influencing drug policy reform.

Dr Chris Wilkins - Massey University
A regulatory model for recreational cannabis and legal highs in New Zealand.

Professor Sally Casswell - Massey University
Lessons from the regulation of alcohol and tobacco for a legal drugs market.


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Transport: International Arrivals In May Lowest In 61 Years

The number of people that arrived in New Zealand in May 2020 was the lowest for any month since May 1959, because of COVID-19-related border and travel restrictions, Stats NZ said today. There were 5,600 arrivals in May 2020 compared with 4,700 in ... More>>


It’s All In The Genomes: New Study Reveals Scale Of Havelock North Campylobacteriosis Outbreak

When the campylobacteria outbreak hit Havelock North in 2016, no-one fully understood how widely it affected the local communities. Gene-sequencing technology used by scientists has shown the true scale of the outbreak. The joint study from ESR, Massey ... More>>


Tiwai Point: Rio Tinto Announces Plans To Close Tiwai Point Smelter

Rio Tinto has just announced that it will wind down New Zealand Aluminium Smelters - the Tiwai Point smelter - saying the business is no longer viable. More>>


Freight: New Report On Auckland Port Relocation

The Government has released a major new report on the options for relocating the Port of Auckland’s freight operations while deferring any decision on the issue. More>>


Energy Sector: Meridian Spilled Water To Hike Electricity Prices - Authority Ruling

The Electricity Authority has found that generator Meridian Energy manipulated the power market, costing consumers about $80 million. More>>


XE Data Update: RBNZ Official Cash Rate Decision

The RBNZ will keep the Official Cash Rate (OCR) at 0.25%. T he key points in the RBNZ statement are: RBNZ keeps the OCR unchanged at 0.25% Maintain the LSAP (large scale asset purchase) at NZD$60 billion. Committee prepared to use additional monetary ... More>>


Electricity: Kiwis Ignore Promise Of Cheaper Power

Electric Kiwi and Flick Electric Co are joint winners of Canstar Blue’s award for Most Satisfied Customers | Electricity Providers From putting on an extra layer – rather than turning on a heater – to turning off lights and choosing the energy-saving ... More>>


ASB: Regional Economic Scoreboard Q1 2020

ASB NZ Regional Economic Scoreboard Gisborne still the place to be It has been Gisborne’s year, and the region comes out tops on our regional rankings for the fourth successive quarter. Like everywhere, question marks are about the COVID-19 impact on the future. ... More>>

RNZ: Economic Activity And Business Confidence Bouncing Back

Two surveys from ANZ show business confidence and economic activity have rebounded, but uncertainty about the future remains extreme. More>>


NIWA: The Climate Record That Keeps Getting Broken

Among the multitude of New Zealand climate statistics there is one record that continues to be broken month after month. Since January 2017 there has not been one month that recorded a below average nationwide temperature, according to NIWA’s seven station ... More>>


Govt: Extended Loan Scheme Keeps Business Afloat

Small businesses are getting greater certainty about access to finance with an extension to the interest-free cashflow loan scheme to the end of the year. The Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme has already been extended once, to 24 July. Revenue and Small ... More>>


Science: 2019 Prime Minister’s Science Prizes Announced

The 2019 Prime Minister’s Science Prizes have been announced in a digital livestream event today. The Prizes recognise the impact of science on New Zealanders’ lives, celebrate the achievements of current scientists and encourage scientists of the ... More>>


Stardome Observatory: Young Kiwi Astro-Photographer Shoots For The Stars

Matariki by Josh Kirkley. The stars are aligning for up-and-coming Auckland-based astro-photographer Josh Kirkley (Kāi Tahu). During lockdown, one of his images was picked up by NASA and shared on the space agency’s Instagram to its 59.2 million ... More>>

DCANZ: Time For EU To Commit To A Level Playing Field For Trade

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) has welcomed New Zealand Trade Minister David Parker’s statement that it is unacceptable for New Zealand exporters to continue facing an ‘unlevel playing field’ in the EU. Details leaked ... More>>


New Zealand Government: Supporting Kiwi Businesses To Resolve Rent Disputes

The Government will legislate to ensure businesses that suffered as a result of the COVID-19 response will get help to resolve disputes over commercial rent issues, Justice Minister Andrew Little announced today. More>>