As per a 2017 agreement to revisit legal cannabis later on, a referendum on legalizing cannabis will be held during the 2020 elections in New Zealand this September.  

A draft of the bill has been published in the country that asks ‘Do you support the proposed “Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill”?’ Those being polled were then given a “yes or no” answer choice. The bill seeks to reduce harm from the existence of an illicit market for cannabis and proposes to establish home growing, retail cannabis, and a regulatory oversight section to keep the new industry in check. 

The Specifications of The Bill

If this cannabis bill passes, those 20 years of age and older would be able to possess and purchase cannabis legally. This is two years older than their legal drinking age of 18. Citizens would be able grow up to two cannabis plants, or four per household, and buy up to 14 grams of cannabis per day. There would be no public use, and possession for those who are underage will still be outlawed. 

Much like in other countries and U.S. states, cannabis would only be sold at licensed cannabis facilities that don’t sell any other controlled substances. Commercial edibles would not be legalized, although users would be permitted to make them at home. The bill also establishes a tax system for cannabis. 

Additionally, the bill sets a limit for how much cannabis can be produced, which can change each year based on how many people are involved in the industry. Money generated by the cannabis industry would go to causes like harm reduction, education, and treatment. 

However, even if the referendum passes, the New Zealand government isn’t required to act. If more than 50 percent of citizens vote in favor of it, cannabis legalization can be introduced in Parliament and put up for public consultation. If more than 50 percent vote against it, then no action towards legalization will be taken. 

New Zealand has not had a lot of luck so far with legal cannabis traction, so if this referendum passes, while it won’t be a sure shot to legalization, it will be a major milestone for the country. 

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