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Count cost of cannabis prohibition: ACT

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 20/07/2016

A Treasury report which says the government could save $400 million a year by decriminalising cannabis should also take account of the social impact of prohibition, ACT leader David Seymour says.

The report was uncovered by Nelson lawyer Sue Grey while she was working out the savings people could make by taking medicinal cannabis instead of prescription drugs.

It says $400m a year is spent enforcing prohibition, and on top of that $150m a year could be generated by taxing cannabis.

Mr Seymour says cannabis research should be based on comprehensive evidence.

"What Treasury's brainstorm didn't estimate was the human cost of prohibition, such as the impact of imprisonment on families or mental health issues caused by prolonged cannabis use," he said on Wednesday.

"If Treasury are going to calculate the financial costs (finance minister) Bill English should ask them to also quantify the health costs of prolonged cannabis use as well as the social outcomes of having thousands of New Zealanders, particularly Maori, removed from their families and the workforce through imprisonment."

Mr English says the Treasury document wasn't official advice and didn't go to him.

"It was a document prepared by a single staff member for an internal forum," he said.

Mr Seymour isn't calling for decriminalisation.

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