By Eric Crampton 14/01/2019


National wishes to impose a ‘fit and proper persons’ test for those supplying legal medicinal cannabis.

National’s associate health spokesman Shane Reti said medicinal cannabis manufacturers and employees should be “fit and proper persons”.

National has proposed clean slate legislation requiring no terms of imprisonment and no convictions for seven years for employees, and even tougher standards for licence holders including no associations with gangs.

“The industry was adamant that it understood the need to be absolutely squeaky clean in this new industry and they were up for that,” Reti said.

David Farrar suggests it is appropriate that those in the industry have no convictions within the past seven years.

I keep saying the best approach to cannabis legalisation is to look at alcohol and see whether the rules there would work for cannabis. For alcohol, a license applicant’s suitability matters:

Suitability of an applicant may take into account: business or industry knowledge to effectively operate a licensed premises; recent experience in the industry; criminal history, association with undesirable people, or previous behaviour relating to the sale of alcohol. Suitability of the applicant is an issue that Police considers in the investigation of licence applications as it has access to information not generally available to the public. However, community groups can provide information that may not be available to Police.

Where an existing licence is being renewed with no changes to conditions, the suitability of the applicant will be the only ground for objection.

I would expect that this, applied to cannabis, should mean that people with current gang affiliations would not be deemed suitable, that those with criminal histories not relating to cannabis would not be deemed suitable unless they had cleaned up their act, and that those whose prior offending related only to the sale, supply, or possession of cannabis should be deemed suitable. I would also expect that the licensing authority would weigh things up as a whole for any applicant.

So I would hope that someone who had a criminal record as a drug dealer would not be excluded from being a potential licensee. Otherwise, I’d hope that the licensing authority just uses the same kind of criteria it uses when deciding on alcohol licensees. A new licensee’s prior expertise with cannabis should count positively, rather than negatively, in that evaluation.

It would be manifestly unjust if those who have been most harmed by prohibition were locked out of a newly legal industry in which they have developed some expertise.