New Zealand Law Society - Draft cannabis legalisation bill released

Draft cannabis legalisation bill released

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The government has released a draft of the Cannabis Legislation and Control Bill for consultation.

Parts of the bill are key areas that need to be developed. The final draft bill will be released in early 2020 and will contain more detail and take into account feedback on the current draft.

The purpose (clause 3) of the legislation is to make cannabis legal while applying a range of controls relating to its manufacture, retail, purchase and consumption. The controls include deterring the illegal supply of cannabis and raising public awareness of the health risks of cannabis use.

Part 2 establishes a Cannabis Regulatory Authority which has the main objectives of promoting the wellbeing of New Zealanders, reducing the multiple harms associated with cannabis use and lowering the overall use of cannabis over time.

Part 2A contains general provisions concerning restrictions and infringement provisions relating to cannabis use

  • a cultivation limit of 2 cannabis plants for personal use;
  • limitations on where cannabis may be grown (out of sight of the public, or an area not accessible by the public);
  • a possession limit of 14 grams in a public place;
  • a purchase limit of 14 grams of dried cannabis a day;
  • age restriction of 20 years for the cultivation, purchase or possession of cannabis.
  • gifting of cannabis will be restricted to the age, quantity limits and cannot be for the purpose of obtaining a material benefit or avoiding a material detriment;
  • consumption of cannabis must not be in a public place;
  • prohibition on selling or selling cannabis to persons under 20;
  • prohibition selling cannabis by mail order or courier;
  • prohibition on importing cannabis unless licenced to do so;
  • prohibition against unlicensed production of resins or cannabis concentrates.

Part 4 – Regulated system - is intended to contribute to harm reduction by establishing a regime to control the supply of cannabis in New Zealand. This includes establishing a licensing regime, setting quality and safety standards, controlling the potency of cannabis, limiting advertising and ensuring that cannabis sales contribute to the economy and are taxed appropriately. The regime will ensure that the retail prices of licensed cannabis products reflect a balance between harm reduction objectives that seek to lower the overall use of cannabis and at the same time draw people away from the illicit cannabis market.

The Ministry of Justice has released a summary of the current policy work that supports the bill. Apart from the primary objectives described above, the secondary policy objectives include disempowering gangs and the illegal trade in cannabis, lowering the prison population over time and recognising and reflecting New Zealand society’s cultural practices and values so that it can be accepted by New Zealanders.

The public will be asked to vote “yes” or “no” to the following proposed referendum question at the 2020 election:

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

The referendum will be “indicative” meaning the Government would have to support the proposed law.