Subject: Regulations Consultation
The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party exists to legalise cannabis for recreational, spiritual, medicinal and industrial purposes; to empower people to work together for peace and true justice; and to institute a proper and just balance between the power of the state and the rights and dignity of the individual.
Psychoactive substances regulations exists to give government some measure of control over what substances people use, how they use them, and who uses them.
Cannabis is not regulated. It is prohibited. Paradoxically, in the case of cannabis, prohibition means that cannabis is almost entirely uncontrolled. Nearly everyone who wants to use cannabis does so, including minors. For minors, cannabis is as readily available as alcohol.
Ostensibly, the purpose of cannabis prohibition is harm reduction. The three pillars of harm reduction are supply control, demand reduction and problem limitation. Under prohibition, there is no control of supply of, no reduction in demand for, and no limitation of problems caused by, cannabis.
Government must regulate cannabis if it is to gain any measure of control over who uses cannabis. Regulation is de facto legalisation. For the government and for the cannabis law reform movement, a regulated, taxable market in cannabis is win-win.
Various parties, including the Associate Minister of Health himself, have suggested that substances currently controlled (or not, in the case of cannabis) under the Misuse of Drugs Act might, in future, be controlled under the Psychoactive Substances Act. A simple legislative amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act removing cannabis from its schedules would immediately bring cannabis under the Psychoactive Substances Act, where its risk of harm could then be assessed against the same standards as will apply to any other psychoactive substance.
There is more than one way to skin a dead cat, and this is not the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party’s preferred pathway to cannabis law reform. However, the Party makes the present submission on the assumption that the future pathway to legal cannabis will be as has just been suggested.
Cannabis is not a substance, nor is it a product. It is a plant, a plant that anyone with a green thumb can grow. Therefore, many of the consultation questions in the supplied consultation document are inapplicable to cannabis. Since we do not have to answer all the questions, we answer only those questions we deem to be relevant.
Our main concerns are “truth in labelling” and appropriate measures to minimise access to cannabis by minors. Hence, the questions we answer below are mainly those concerning labelling and packaging (in Chapter 4 of the consultation document), and place of sale and advertising (in Chapter 5).
14. Are the proposed requirements and restrictions on labelling sufficient?
15. Are the proposed requirements relating to health warnings sufficient?
16. Are the proposed packaging requirements and restrictions sufficient?
17. Do you agree with the proposal to restrict a packet to one dose? Please give reasons for your answer.
No. There is no need to restrict the size of a packet of cannabis. Because no one has ever overdosed on cannabis in all of human history. If there must be restriction, the size of a packet of cannabis should be restricted to 1 oz. There is no need for decimalisation.
18. Do you agree with the proposal that a dose, in whatever form the product takes, is split wherever possible?
No. Consumers can do this themselves with scissors or grinders.
19. Do you think there should be restrictions on the form products can take? If so, what forms do you think should and shouldn’t be allowed?
No. Cannabis should be allowed in smokeable, vaporisable, topical and edible forms.
20. Do you think there should be restrictions or requirements on the storage of psychoactive substances? If so, what should the restrictions or requirements be?
See below. (As previously noted, cannabis is neither a substance nor a product. It is a plant, but can be made into a value-added product.
21. Do you think restrictions or requirements should be set for the storage of approved products? If so, what should they be?
Yes. For security purposes, to prevent cannabis from falling into the hands of minors or of thieves who might on-sell to minors, cannabis retailers should store cannabis products under lock and key when not physically present on the retail premises.
22. Do you think restrictions or requirements should be set regarding the display of approved products? If so, what should they be?
Yes. We suggest that such restrictions or set requirements be in line with those applicable to other psychoactive products. Additionally open discussion around public health best practices such as plain packaging must occur, in the context of whatever is publicly acceptable for tobacco and alcohol should also be acceptable for cannabis.
23. Do you think restrictions or requirements should be set regarding the disposal of approved products? If so, what should they be?
Up in smoke. Persons disposing of cannabis must ensure that there are no minors or non-consenting adults downwind of the conflagration.
24. Do you think there should be signage requirements in the regulations? If so, please give specific suggestions.
There should be no signage requirements, but we recommend a stylised cannabis leaf.
25. Do you think the regulations should specify further places where approved products may not be sold? If so, please provide specific suggestions.
We have no special objections to regulations preventing the sale of cannabis near schools or other places where minors might otherwise tend to congregate.
26. Do you think the regulations should prescribe restrictions or requirements for advertisements of approved products? If so, please provide specific suggestions.
We have no special objections to the regulations that currently apply to advertisements for synthetic cannabinoid products also applying to advertisements for cannabis.
27. Do you think the regulations should prescribe restrictions or requirements on internet sales of approved products? If so, please provide specific suggestions.
We have no special objections to the restrictions and requirements that currently apply to Internet sales of synthetic cannabinoid products also applying to Internet sales of cannabis.
28. Do you think the regulations should prescribe restrictions or requirements on the advertising of approved products? If so, please provide specific suggestions.
We have no special objections to the restrictions and requirements that currently apply to the on-site advertising of cannabinoid products also applying to the on-site advertising of cannabis.
In closing, a few words about the fees and levies proposed (in Chapter 6 of the consultation document) and also on determining the risk of harm posed by cannabis.
The ALCP envisages that many commercial suppliers of legal cannabis will be small scale suppliers. The suggested fees and levies in the consultation document would be harshly punitive in the context of “cottage industry” cannabis. They would provide a major disincentive to comply with the regulations, and drive the cultivation and supply of cannabis underground, where it now is, uncontrolled by the government. We suggest that the PSRA sets the fees or levies payable by homegrown commercial cannabis suppliers commensurate with those set by authorities in the State of Colorado.
Cannabis has been tried and tested over several millennia. Risk of harm has already been determined. We know that cannabis poses no more than a very low risk of harm to those who choose to use it.
This submission was completed by Dr. Richard Goode, Vice President of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, on its behalf.