So gang members may be able to take up a new patch under proposals for a legal medicinal cannabis market - a patch of fresh green marijuana seedlings.
The question of who in New Zealand would be able to work in what is estimated to be a $80 billion global industry by 2025 was answered last week with the Ministry of Health's release of a proposed regulatory framework.
It's important to reiterate this is the medicinal cannabis sector, not recreational - that matter will be addressed in a referendum coinciding with next year's general election.
Currently, medicinal cannabis products are available on prescription with ministerial approval, although Sativex is the sole approved product and is considered prohibitively expensive, leading many to seek relief in illegal products.
The change should be a welcome one for many of the current crop of green-fingered felons, working under threat of discovery. Cultivation of cannabis, including to sow or plant it, can currently result in a seven-year jail term. How would you like to be paid a wage instead of being jailed?
Last year the Government passed a law to broaden the legal cannabis market via a new regulatory framework. The law also puts in place a temporary legal defence for those using medicinal cannabis while the framework is being drawn up.
The proposed framework - which the public has four weeks to provide feedback on - aims to produce safe, quality products in an accessible and affordable way.
A new body, the Medicinal Cannabis Agency, will oversee the scheme, to be in place by the first quarter of 2020, with products potentially being available by mid-2020.
The manufacturing process would have to follow good practice in accordance with the Medicines Act, with the Ministry of Health having the final say on what gets approved, although approved products could follow years of clinical trials. Therefore, the framework includes licences to sell non-approved products - including imported products - which meet quality standards and can be prescribed by a doctor.
A licence would also be needed to make or supply medicinal cannabis products, or grow cannabis for these purposes.
Russell Brown: Synthetics are an entirely different kettle to pot
Exclusive: Cannabis reform gets big tick from public - Use it, don't sell it
Those wanting a licence would be vetted by police and would be declined if they had any drug-related or dishonesty convictions in the past seven years, whether in New Zealand or overseas. But workers in the industry would not have any such restrictions.
And here's the opening for those who've been tending plots on the wrong side of the tracks. Health Minister David Clark said that people, including gang members, with cannabis-growing know-how could participate in the new market.
The change should be a welcome one for many of the current crop of green-fingered felons, working under threat of discovery. Cultivation of cannabis, including to sow or plant it, can currently result in a seven-year jail term or an immediate two years' jail term and/or $2000 fine (depending on the amount). How would you like to be paid a wage instead of being jailed?
Of course, the industry would need rigorous monitoring for compliance with any amended rules and laws. All proper employment practices and conditions would need to be adhered to and workers would need to step up to the plate on all the responsibilities which come with being employees.
The Ministry of Health's proposed regulatory framework is open for public feedback until August 7.