Support for cannabis high with Kiwi voters, opening the door to massive tax benefits
By: Debrin Foxcroft
New Zealand could develop a niche market of export-quality, organic, sun-grown marijuana if we “crack on” with law changes, says the leader of The Opportunities Party (TOP).
Economist and TOP leader Geoff Simmons said public opinion was clearly behind the legalization of cannabis and it was time to start looking at what a legal market might look like.
“We think the evidence is strong enough to just crack on and legalize cannabis,” Simmons said.
Results from a recent survey revealed broad support across the political spectrum for the 2020 referendum announced by the Government last month.
New Zealand’s largest licensed medicinal cannabis company, Helius Therapeutics, commissioned Horizon Research to survey Kiwis on their attitudes towards cannabis, law reform, and its use.
The survey found 60 per cent of New Zealanders said they would vote to to support legalizing cannabis for personal use, and 68 per cent believed any tax revenue from legal cannabis research should be spent on health services.
Over two-thirds of survey respondents believed that legalized cannabis would result in lower levels or crime or have no effect.
The independent Horizon Research canvassed the opinions of 995 adults between October 10 and 26, 2018.
Results were weighted by age, gender, education level, personal income and employment status to provide a presentative population sample.
Just 24 per cent of respondents said they would not support the referendum, while 16 per cent said they did not know how they would vote.
Paul Manning, executive director of Helius Therapeutics, says the referendum support would be encouraging for the many New Zealanders who supported the liberalization of recreational cannabis use.
Whilst Helius Therapeutics remained focused on researching and developing cannabis therapeutics, legalizing recreational use could further change the future market dynamics, he said.
“From this survey, it appears a majority of New Zealanders will vote yes at the 2020 referendum. It’s also encouraging for us to see an overwhelming 81 per cent of Kiwis continue to support the legal production of medicines from cannabis,” Manning said.
“If New Zealand follows a similar path to Canada, where both medical and recreational sales are permitted, we will see the total domestic market for cannabis-based products expand significantly.”
Simmons said estimates around tax revenue could range between $180 million and $240 million, depending on the level of tax applied to cannabis products.
“The numbers are conservative. One big unknown is how much tourism legalization would create,” he said.
“Also, the feeling is that there is a niche opportunity to produce high-end, organic, sun-fed crops. There is scope for an export industry, which could increase employment.”
Simmons said he had spoken with a number of people in areas where the legal cannabis industry could take a foothold.
“For a long time marijuana was looked on as a negative but these communities are now fighting against P. They are saying, let’s make it marijuana legal, tax it and pour the money into rehabilitation and treatment,” he said.