Abe Grey open letter on shift to TOP

Abe Grey has posted an open letter on Facebook to all present and past members of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party after announcing he was shifting allegiance to The Opportunities Party (TOP).



The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party has existed for over 20 years and contested every election and by-election since MMP. The principle of the Party is sound, under MMP any party that gets over 5% is able to wield its influence in Coalition negotiations and demand certain bottom lines.

In theory, the Cannabis Party could make cannabis legalisation a post-election demand if they were to get 5%, just like Peter Dunne made no cannabis legalisation an election demand last time he got over 5% back in 2002. Unfortunately, the Cannabis party have never reached 5%, and it’s unlikely they ever will.

I have not always been a die-hard Cannabis Party supporter and I am conflicted about my vote being ‘wasted’ as a ‘protest vote’. I used to be a very enthusiastic member of the New Zealand Green Party but I was disgusted by the way they backed away from the Cannabis issue even though it was the right thing. Now they have come back to their ‘grass-roots’, but for those of us who had to endure the last 10 years of silence on the issue it is too little too late.

The only reason the Cannabis Party has existed in those years, and the only reason that I would give any of my energy to it, is that no other party had the guts to stand up for what was right and tell the truth about cannabis. They were all too concerned about the public image of their own party and not about the wellbeing of the people of New Zealand.

I’d always said if ever a mainstream party were to take up an appropriate cannabis policy (and actually campaign on it), or if a new party were to come along that actually had a chance of getting into Parliament and made cannabis law reform a central issue of their policy programme (along with other policies I support), that I would leave the ALCP and devote my energies to the party with the best policy that actually had a chance of being elected.

I have waited for this to happen for the last 5 elections an unfortunately it hasn’t … until now.

Call me ahead of my time, but the things I have been saying about cannabis for over a decade have now all of a sudden become very fashionable, even the subject of jokey banter between Richard Branson and John Key!

And now as we get closer to the election many parties are beginning to jump on the bandwagon and signal rhetorically that they would be willing to ‘do something’ about the cannabis issue. I’m wary of this, as I’ve seen this before and the rhetoric is seldom matched by action.

But this time around The Opportunities Party really stands out to me for having a policy that is not only based on evidence and public health best practice, but also has the guts to see the policy through to its logical conclusion instead of just waffling around the edges without really ‘doing’ anything. And they have matched their policy prowess with thoughtful and forceful campaigning on the issue in the media.

The TOP cannabis policy in my opinion is the best possible policy you could have. It ties together decades of research and public health discussions, arriving at a framework that is unquestionably best practise. This is exactly the cannabis policy I would have written if I had the resources of a well-funded policy think tank at my disposal, and every serious cannabis law reform advocate I know feels the same. The fact that TOP arrived at this exact policy through an evidence based process and without the input of the pro-cannabis lobby only further vindicates law reform advocates and speaks volumes for the robustness of TOP’s evidence based policy approach.

That’s why I am leaving the Cannabis Party and joining TOP and will be giving my Party Vote to TOP at this election. And I encourage any current or former Cannabis Party members/voters to do the same.

For the first time in memory we actually have a party prepared to stand up for us, and make cannabis legalisation a high priority, a party that actually has a chance of getting into parliament.

Better still, they also have a whole bunch of other great policies that are similarly bold and put the wellbeing of New Zealanders ahead of political appearances. Besides even if for some reason they don’t get in, they will still do much better than the 0.5% ALCP usually gets, and by adding our 0.5% to TOP’s result we will send an even stronger message and put the career politicians on notice that cannabis legalisation is a high priority for NZ voters.

If you want to join me visit www.top.org.nz to sign up.

Your departing President
Abe Gray


  1. Blazer

     /  June 6, 2017

    a bit of momentum for Morgan.One outstanding fact about TOP.Morgan genuinely wants a better NZ for all.He does not need to devote his energy to this.Unlike Key who wanted to build his rolladex,and just add to his C.V,Morgan is quite altruistic in comparison.The TOP policies have quite broad appeal if voters can overcome the negative spin emanating from the ..usual established,status quo suspects.

    • I have had some reservations about Morgan and TOP but I really hope they give things a really good nudge. They are the only ones I can see who can give our party political set up a bloody good shake up, and that is badly needed, especially for the larger parties National, Labour and Greens who have all tried to shut out new parties.

      I’d consider voting for TOP if I thought they could look like getting anywhere near giving the rest a damn good fright, at least.

      • PDB

         /  June 6, 2017

        Blazer: “The TOP policies have quite broad appeal”

        To whom? Not anybody with any economic sense…..

        As I posted here back in December one of TOP’s main policies (tax) is a total mess;

        *Fails the main tax ‘sniff test’ in that a new tax should be simple – this isn’t. Requires everybody to file a tax return and balance sheet detailing all assets being taxed. Listening to Gareth it would also have all sorts of exemptions and differences depending upon your circumstances (retired homeowner, asset rich/income poor people etc). For 80% of people (supposedly) you would have to muck around regaining your money through an income tax rebate – just ugly.
        *Deciding on what a house, expensive car for instance is worth at any point of time is like throwing a dart at the dartboard – open to major conjecture. The cost of enforcing the tax would be huge for both the taxpayer and the govt. Lawyers and accountants would be the ultimate benefactors of such a tax.
        *Appears to have no mechanism of paying back money when your assets actually devalue? A tax like this can’t be a one-way street, tax deductions for losses can’t just be ignored.
        *Discourages savings and effectively taxes money that has already been well taxed. Raises the cost of renting considerably.
        A land tax is possible but trying to tax all ‘assets’ like houses, expensive cars, paintings etc etc is just fantasyland stuff that would only find favour in the envious ones.”

        • Blazer

           /  June 6, 2017

          hard choice here…Gareth Morgan an economist and wealthy individual….against an anonymous blog poster who clearly enjoys a sinecure guaranteed by council…or govt.

          • PDB

             /  June 6, 2017

            Let me correct you – Gareth Morgan an economist and wealthy individual who had this to say about North Korea: “a people who were poor, yes, but wonderfully engaged, well-dressed, fully employed and well informed. In Gareth’s view, what North Korea has achieved economically despite its lack of access to international money has been magnificent.”

            The anonymous blog poster who posted detailed rebuttal of Morgan’s tax policy that you couldn’t argue against is looking pretty good at the moment!

          • PDB

             /  June 6, 2017

            Also for the record I don’t work for any govt agencies & have gone on record in the past in saying I run a small business – not good form on this blog to try and ‘insinuate’ I work in an area I don’t.

            • Blazer

               /  June 6, 2017

              not true,,,,you waivered between being self employed and having..a job…so your clarification is welcome…what have National done for small businessmen like yourself in the last 8 years…people like yourself are the real backbone of the country…not corporations and international tax dodgers..I’m all ..ears.

            • PDB

               /  June 6, 2017

              Hate to break it to you Blazer……..hope you are sitting down (I doubt if you do anything else)…….working in a small business IS having a job……….

            • Blazer

               /  June 6, 2017

              self employed …sledgehammer /nut…back to the Q!

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  June 7, 2017

              Blazer possibly thinks that business owners don’t actually work, just watch the money piling up as their minimum wage workers do all the real work.

  2. PDB

     /  June 6, 2017

    The more lefties voting TOP the better – that 4.9% of the vote is looking good for them!

    • TOP could pick up a chunk of ex-national vote.

      • PDB

         /  June 6, 2017

        Not with their nonsense tax policy I write about above……..

        More likely to steal votes off Greens and maybe some NZL First & Labour.

        • But it’s obvious that should a new party just get into Parliament on 5% and has said they would sit on the cross benches is not going to get al it’s tax policy implemented.

          Morgan has said their aims are ideas, evidence and influence, not running the show.

          So a potential vote for TOP has to be looked at in that context.

          • PDB

             /  June 6, 2017

            I think having a flagship tax policy that is clearly unworkable tells most informed voters all they need to know about TOP.

  3. One of a kind

     /  June 6, 2017

    This is great.

    1% of Green voters may swap to TOP.

    TOP will get 2% and get no where near Parliament.

    The Greens will lose 1-2% and get no where near the Treasury benches.

    TOP 2017 = Dotcom 2014

    Oh dear, how sad, never mind.

  4. Kevin

     /  June 7, 2017

    So he’s gone from the being the totally useless leader of a totally useless political party to a member of another totally useless political party with a totally useless leader.

    TOP won’t get 5%. Gareth will see to that every time he opens his mouth.

  5. I think Abe is being realistic; cannabis reform is being seen as an issue that is gaining traction, in run-up to 23/9, rather than ‘running for cover, by most MPs’ (other then some Greens).. the ALCP, appear to be imploding, with total change of their exec. recently?

    The Greens have recently released a better policy on drugs, BUT where does it sit on their priority list ?? we shall see :/