New Zealand Election 2020: The pros and cons of legal cannabis to be debated

The arguments for and against legalising cannabis for personal use are at the centre of tonight’s debate about next month’s referendum.

Hosted by Newstalk ZB’s Heather du Plessis-Allan, the debate features Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell, Associate Professor of Law Khylee Quince – who is a member of the expert panel of the PM’s chief science adviser’s expert panel on cannabis, Police Association president Chris Cahill, and Say Nope to Dope spokesman Aaron Ironside.

Cahill said police will follow whatever the public decide, but he warned that without the right price or the right THC (the psychoactive ingredient) level, users would simply stick to the black market.

Ironside argued that youth use would increase under legalisation simply because “it will be everywhere”, but Bell and Cahill both cited Canada, where youth use fell – official statistics which Ironside challenged.

Bell said the proposed legal regulation in New Zealand would protect young users because millions of dollars would be available for education and treatment, and it was easier to talk to young people about legally regulated products.

Cahill said 50 per cent of cannabis in Canada was being bought on the legal market within the first year of legalisation, but most people who were vulnerable users were more likely to stay with the black market. [Read more @ NZ Herald]