Cannabis Legalisation & Control Bill: Everything you need to know

Updated: Dec 4, 2019

Today, Justice Minister, Andrew Little, has released the draft bill for all political parties to provide feedback on and the first step of a public education campaign ahead of the country going to the polls in 2020.

Called the Cannabis Legalisation & Control Bill, it sets out most of the Government's proposed legislation, should the referendum in 2020 pass.

The public will be asked a simple yes/no referendum question and if it passes, Parliament will then pass legislation to make it lawful. If the referendum results in a no vote, then the status quo will continue.

The question is: “Do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill?”

So voters will need to read the Bill in order to make an informed decision, however there will be a nationwide public education campaign.

The bill includes a minimum age of 20 to use and purchase cannabis, and controls will ensure the potency of the products are regulated.

It also allows for a state licensing regime of cannabis-infused products, such as edibles (yes, edible cannabis products may be legal under new legislation).There will also be a purchasing limit - users will only be able to buy a maximum of 14 grams per day - and there will also a limit on the total amount of cannabis grown under licence.

You can read the full copy if the draft Bill here.

Here's everything you need to know:

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.

A draft Bill has been published 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 Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill would make cannabis legal, but apply a range of controls, including to its manufacture, retail, purchase and consumption.

The draft bill includes certain restrictions, such as:c

  • Purchase and use restricted to those aged 20 and over.

  • Purchase would be limited to 14 grams a day.

  • Cannabis use will be confined to private homes and licensed premises.

  • Access will be through licensed dispensaries and cannabis cafés / social clubs

  • Retailers would be required to communicate “harm minimisation messaging”.

  • Consumption in public places will be banned, with use limited to private homes and premises licensed for the purpose.

  • Sale limited to licensed physical stores, with online or remote sales verboten.

  • Potency (presumedly THC) to be regulated.

  • A licensing regime to be introduced covering each part of the growing and supply chain, with limits on the amount of cannabis grown to be introduced over time.

  • Edibles would be legal.

  • Marketing and advertising cannabis will be restricted

  • Requirements for public health messaging on packaging

  • Quality and safety standards will be set for the licensed supply of cannabis, cannabis products, and related accessories.

  • Cannabis Regulatory Authority will be established

  • Equitable access to a stable supply of licensed cannabis and cannabis products available for purchase in New Zealand will be promoted.

  • Pricing of cannabis products will "balance the need for harm reduction" while at the same time, "drawing people away from the illicit cannabis market".

  • Government will ensure the proceeds of cannabis sales contribute to the economy and are taxed appropriately.

  • Individuals can grow cannabis for personal use and sharing, limited to 2 plants per person or a maximum of 4 plants (aggregate) per household.

Mr Little has invited representatives from each party represented in Parliament to meet with him on Thursday to provide their feedback on the draft bill.

Justice Minister, Andrew Little
"My aim is to have the final draft Bill available by early next year, so there is time to argue for change,'' he said.

The plans included a special team within the Ministry of Justice to direct people to information aimed to be as accurate and neutral as possible, and to be on the look-out for any attempts to deliberately mislead the public.

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.

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