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This referendum will ask the public whether the recreational use of cannabis should become legal
- The referendum will give the public the opportunity to vote on whether the recreational use of cannabis should become legal.
- The Government has released a draft Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill for public consideration. 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 referendum question
The proposed referendum question is:
Do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill?
Yes, I support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill.
No, I do not support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill.
Key Terminology used
Cannabis – For the purposes of the referendum, we have divided Cannabis into three types:
- recreational cannabis - It is currently illegal in New Zealand to use or possess cannabis for recreational use. It is also illegal to grow or supply cannabis for recreational use. The draft Bill outlines a proposed law that could regulate Cannabis for recreational use.
- medicinal cannabis – Certain medicinal cannabis products have been available by prescription for some time in New Zealand, although in a limited way. A medicinal cannabis production scheme is being established in New Zealand to widen access to different products. Regulations for the scheme will be released in December 2019.
- hemp – contains very low amounts of psychoactive chemicals and is used to create various products such as oil, rope fibre and hemp seeds. In New Zealand, hemp growers have a specific license to grow the plant. The current scheme to regulate production and sale of industrial hemp has existed since 2006.
Core elements of the Draft Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill
The draft Bill proposes a regulatory model that is a government-controlled regulated market covering the production, supply and use of cannabis.
The draft legislation outlining the proposed regulated scheme for legally accessing cannabis is currently being developed. Read the first version of the draft Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill below.
The core elements of the proposed scheme 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.