Cannabis law reformers want Northland to trial marijuana
liberalisation in a bid to increase tourism after the
American states of Colorado and Washington voted to legalise
But a regional tourism leader doubts relaxing cannabis laws
would boost tourism as claimed by the National Organisation
for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Norml).
Colorado and Washington last week voted to legalise marijuana
possession for people aged 21 and over and Norml spokesman
Abe Gray said New Zealand should do the same to attract more
Mr Gray said Norml wanted the idea trialled in one part of
the country and suggested Northland.
"It would need to be a decision made by Government. We'd then
like to see it trialled on a regional basis first and
Northland would be the ideal place," he said.
"Northland, which is the cannabis capital of New Zealand,
could vie for the opportunity to be the first in the trial."
Mr Gray admitted neither National or Labour were keen on
relaxing cannabis laws, despite the Law Commission
recommending the laws be changed.
He said cannabis could be taxed at a higher rate than other
goods and part of the taxes used for drug education and
rehabilitation. The Government would also save the $500
million a year it spent on cannabis enforcement and
But Whangarei district councillor Jeroen Jongejans, who is
also chairman of the Northland Tourism Development Group and
a member of the Tourism Industry Association board, did not
believe cannabis tourism would work in Northland or be what
the region wanted or needed.
Mr Jongejans' native Netherlands has one of the world's most
liberal cannabis regimes, with small amounts allowed for
personal consumption and marijuana sold in the country's
However, that did not mean it should be a goer in Northland,
"Amsterdam is the dope smoking capital (of Europe) with its
coffee shops, but I don't think lots of people go there just
to smoke dope. I don't see any great benefits for tourism in
Northland by legalising or decriminalising cannabis."
Mr Jongejans said the Netherlands was also surrounded by many
other countries, with free access for other citizens from
other European Union countries.
"It'd be a long way to come to New Zealand just to smoke a
The region had strategies in place to increase visitors and
cannabis tourism was not one of them.
- Northern Advocate