Members of the New Zealand parliament have been negotiating a cannabis legalization referendum for more than two years now, and the final details of that bill have officially been released. The cannabis legalization and control referendum will appear on the general election ballot in September, and the people of New Zealand will make the final decision.
The legislation, called the Cannabis Legalization and Control Bill, aims to establish a legal system and framework for regulating the possession, use, sale, and cultivation of cannabis in New Zealand.
“It has taken two and a half years of negotiation behind the scenes across our Parliament and decades of work by activist, advocates and researchers, who have sought to understand how best to create an evidence-informed approach to reduce drug harm in our communities,” Green Party drug reform spokesperson and member of parliament Chlöe Swarbrick said in video. “We are taking this conversation out of petty partisan politics and placing it in the hands of you.”
The Cannabis Legalization and Control Bill, if approved, will regulate how adults in New Zealand can consume, cultivate, and buy or sell marijuana for recreational purposes. Members of parliament report that they crafted this bill carefully, with the idea of harm-reduction in mind, to protect Kiwis of all ages throughout every part of the country.
If approved, adults of at least 20 years of age will be permitted to purchase up to 14 grams of dried marijuana per day from a licensed facility. Like in the coffee-shops of the Netherlands, of-age Kiwis will also be able to consume cannabis on-site at licensed businesses. Each adult will be permitted to cultivate up to two cannabis plants at home with a maximum of only four plants per household. While it will remain illegal for any individual to sell cannabis to another person, they will be allowed to gift or share up to 14 grams.
Members of the New Zealand Parliament recognize that people are going to consume cannabis whether authorities approve of it or not. Under the current system where recreational marijuana is illegal, black market dealers make all of the profit, and the health of consumers is at the mercy of the unregulated cultivators.
Buying cannabis on the black market can be dangerous because the plants are grown without strict regulations and quality control measures in place. This means that a grower may use harmful chemicals and the consumer would be none the wiser.
Purchasing cannabis that has been lab-tested for contaminants from a licensed retail facility protects the consumer, thereby reducing harm to the people of New Zealand. Licensed retailers also prevent children from being able to make purchases by checking identification, something black market dealers are not commonly known to do.
If the people of New Zealand choose to approve the referendum in September, legal cannabis purchases will be taxed, and the tax revenue is estimated to be as much as $490 million each year.
According to a recent survey conducted by Horizon Research, 54 percent of people support legalizing cannabis in New Zealand. The poll also found that 83 percent of respondents believe that the current system of prohibition is not working, and 72 percent report that “having controls for growing and selling cannabis for personal use would be better for society.”
The most recent survey, conducted in March of this year, showed a six-point increase in support from a similar one that was taken in November 2019.
“Over the next six months, Kiwis need to consider who they ultimately want to control the cannabis market. It’s either gangs or government. Through regulation you can ensure product quality, a safer environment for Kiwis, and significant tax revenue for healthcare,” said Mr. Manning of the New Zealand medical marijuana company Helius Therapeutics.