Pubdate: Thu, 25 Aug 2016
Source: New Zealand Herald (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2016 New Zealand Herald
Author: Liam Dann


The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research - a group better known 
for its views on inflation targeting and GDP growth - says New 
Zealand should move "sooner rather than later" to legalise marijuana 
which would generate a net gain of $300 million to the government accounts.

Drawing on Treasury research which found that legalising could reap 
$150m in new government revenue and reduce spending on drug 
enforcement by around $180m, NZIER principal economist Peter Wilson 
concludes that legalisation, combined with heavy taxation, regulation 
and education would be a better way of reducing social harm from the drug.

"The result should be less use, considerable fiscal savings to the 
government and the removal of a valuable source of revenue for 
criminals," Wilson writes. "Prohibition of marijuana, just like 
prohibition of alcohol before it, has been a costly failure."

Wilson argues that legalisation and taxation of the sale - as opposed 
to decriminalisation - would have the advantage of allowing 
regulators to push the price higher.

But he notes that the current wave of marijuana policy reform offers 
New Zealand the chance to take a good look at which approaches are 
working best.

"We suggest New Zealand move sooner rather than later to implement 
effective policies based on that evidence," Wilson concludes.

The NZIER report follows a call from a horticultural expert for New 
Zealand to grab the economic opportunity of law reform.

Mike Nichols, writing in the latest issue of NZGrower, said New 
Zealand could miss out in much the same way as it did with the opium 
poppy trade now dominated by Tasmania.

"The value of a kilogram of medicinal cannabis compared with a 
kilogram of pinus radiata is a clear example showing that New Zealand 
should be producing, and exporting, high value and low volume 
products," Nichols said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom