New Zealanders will be asked to choose Yes or No on the basis of a draft piece of legislation in a referendum on whether or not to legalise and regulate cannabis.
Justice Minister Andrew Little says officials are now empowered to draft the legislation with stakeholder input, and the Electoral Commission will draft the referendum question to appear on the ballot in the 2020 General Election.
He says the draft legislation will include:
- A minimum age of 20 to use and purchase recreational cannabis,
- Regulations and commercial supply controls,
- Limited home-growing options,
- A public education programme,
- Stakeholder engagement.
Mr Little says the Coalition Government is committed to a health-based approach to drugs, to minimise harm and take control away from criminals. The referendum is a commitment in the Labour-Green Confidence and Supply Agreement, as well as a longstanding commitment from New Zealand First to hold a referendum on the issue.
“The voters’ choice will be binding because all of the parties that make up the current Government have committed to abide by the outcome," he says.
“We hope and expect the National Party will also commit to respecting the voters’ decision."
Mr Little has released the paper on the referendum which was considered by Cabinet.
He has also confirmed that there will be no other government initiated referendums at the next election.