The Government’s refusal to release two reports commissioned by the Ministry of Justice on the economic impacts of cannabis regulation until after October 17 undermines the referendum, National’s Drug Reform spokesperson Nick Smith says.
“The public have a right to all Government information on the cannabis referendum and it is insulting to voters that the Government will not release the reports until after the vote.
“The Ministry of Justice has received two reports by BERL (Business and Economic Research Limited) on cannabis regulation and the regulatory model.
“The Ministry has declined an application by the NBR for release of the information, saying there are no public interest reasons to withhold the document, but that the reports will soon be publicly available – ‘I anticipate that the report will be available after the referendum’.
“The Government is making a mockery of its claim to be the most open and transparent Government ever. It is ridiculous to refuse to release the reports on the basis they will be made public ‘soon’, but then say ‘soon’ is more than seven weeks and after the referendum. The public paid for these reports and have a right to them now.
“I have joined the NBR in seeking the urgent consideration by the Ombudsman of this abuse of the OIA. The issue here of timing is crucial with the referendum debate well underway and voting starting on October 3.
“It was bad enough that the Ministry of Justice has produced brochures on the referendum described by health academics as ‘inflated and unrealistic claims’. It is worse that they are now withholding important advice on the economic impacts of cannabis regulation.”