NZ: New Zealand Government will hold a referendum on cannabis legalization

The New Zealand Government will give the public the opportunity to vote on legalization of recreational cannabis. The Government has also released a draft Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill for public consideration. This draft bill will allow the public to get a better idea of what the proposed legalization might look like and will also be the main focus of questioning for the referendum.

The draft Bill describes the key aspects of proposed rules about growing, selling and purchasing cannabis for recreational purposes. The Government is publishing a draft Bill at this point to ensure that New Zealanders are informed about the direction being taken and the decisions that have been made to date. The final draft Bill, which will be released in early 2020, will contain more detail and take into account feedback on the current draft.

The question for the referendum will focus on the public’s agreement with the proposed bill. The draft Bill proposes a regulatory model that is a government-controlled regulated market covering the production, supply and use of cannabis. The core elements of which are:

  • A minimum purchase and use age of 20
  • Confining use to private homes and licensed premises
  • Prescribing conditions for personal growing and sharing
  • Requirements for public health messaging
  • Licensing the whole of the supply chain
  • Restricting marketing and advertising

What happens after the votes are counted?
If more than 50% of the vote is 'Yes', recreational use of cannabis won't become legal straight away. After the election, the incoming Government will need to follow a process to introduce a Bill to Parliament that would make recreational use of cannabis legal. This process would include the opportunity for the public to share their thoughts and ideas on how the law might work.

If more than 50% of the vote is 'No', recreational use of cannabis will remain illegal, as is the current law. Medicinal Cannabis and hemp will not be affected. Medicinal use of Cannabis will still be allowed if prescribed by a health practitioner and hemp will still be legal.

Read the Draft Control Bill here

Read a summary of the Policy Positions here

Source: New Zealand Government

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