New Zealanders Get a Glimpse of the Cannabis Bill They Will Vote on in 2020

A draft of New Zealand’s proposed recreational marijuana legalization bill includes a 20 years of age minimum, a maximum possession of 14 grams, and a complete ban on cannabis marketing.

New Zealand government officials released a cannabis referendum to the public this week, outlining its rules and regulations for legalizing recreational cannabis. Andrew Little, Justice Minister, announced the release of the draft was about letting voters to know that the government is prepared.

“This is about making sure that in the event of a year’s vote which the parties and government have bound themselves to follow that the regulatory regime is one of strict control…” Little said.

The draft of the “Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill” details how the government proposes to oversee the recreational marijuana market if voters approve the bill in the Nov. 21, 2020 general election. The referendum needs 50 percent of the vote to be approved.

Key Highlights of Referendum

Among the key points in New Zealand’s recreational marijuana referendum are:

  • Minimum age to purchase or consume is 20 and older.
  • Maximum amount of cannabis possession is 14 grams. Breaking the limit rule could result in an infringement fee of $200 or a court-imposed fine of up to $500.
  • Ban on all cannabis product marketing and advertising.
  • Requirements to post harm minimization messaging in retail cannabis shops.
  • Cannabis consumption in public places is prohibited.
  • Sales of cannabis are limited to licensed stores, no online or remote sales.
  • Regulation of cannabis THC levels in products.
  • A state licensing regime is established with authority over all stages of cannabis growing and the supply chain.

Looking for Feedback

Little said in a press release that he would like feedback from party leaders on the current draft in order to have the final bill ready by early 2020. He provided a questionnaire for leaders to answer.

“By making the referendum questions and the initial draft Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill available early the intention is to encourage public awareness and discussion. It is important that the public feel they can meaningfully participate in the referendum process,” Little stated.

James Shaw, parliamentary member and leader of the Green Party, also spoke during the cannabis bill announcement calling the proposal a health-based approach and a focus on reducing access to young people.

“The approach that we’ve had over the course of the last many decades we think has failed,” Shaw said. “It’s caused harm and driven an unregulated market underground and into the black market.”

The long-awaited 2020 cannabis referendum is part of a deal between New Zealand’s Labour Party and the Green Party. The alliance was formed through an agreement involving The Green Party supporting the Labour Party Prime Minister in exchange for support on marijuana legalization referendum.

New Zealand has medical marijuana access in place. In 2017 easier access was granted for those seeking medical marijuana by no longer requiring a ministerial sign off.

More on Cannabis

Find out more about New Zealand’s cannabis laws, or learn more about cannabis policy developments in the U.S. and around the world by checking back in to our cannabis policy page.

You can also read reports on cannabis business or scientific research by visiting our cannabis news page.