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Vote yes on our terms

The Cannabis Control Bill has been written specifically for New Zealand.

This world-leading piece of public health legislation, backed by the NZ Drug Foundation, aims to put regulations in place that will help minimise the social and health harms of cannabis for New Zealanders.

The referendum on legalising cannabis will be held at the General Election on 17 October.

We’ll be voting on the Government’s Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill, which puts regulation in place to minimise the social and health harms of cannabis. The Bill has a special focus on protecting young New Zealanders.

This is the best chance New Zealand has to put public health controls around how we manage cannabis in our country.

The Drug Foundation is backing a ‘Yes’ vote.

Key controls
Here are 8 key control measures of The Bill.
At the referendum we’ll be voting on whether to implement the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill and make cannabis legal.
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Tax revenue will go towards drug education and treatment.

We will all benefit from as much as $490M of new annual taxes from legalising and controlling cannabis.

Legalisation means the government takes control over the cannabis market, from seed to sale.

It also allows us to tax cannabis and use that income for health and education services for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

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It will free up police time to focus on serious crime.

If we pass the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill, our police force will be freed up to focus on serious crime.

Each year, we spend almost $200 million and over 330,000 police hours on cannabis enforcement and convictions. These are significant police resources which should be put to better use protecting us all from serious crimes.

This law change would also see thousands fewer New Zealanders convicted each year – avoiding lifelong impacts on employment, study and travel

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Increased access for those who use it for medical treatment.

The evidence is clear that cannabis can be an effective medicine for a range of conditions, including epilepsy, chronic pain and nausea from some cancer treatments.

While medicinal cannabis is technically legal in New Zealand with a prescription, there are few products
available and they are very expensive because they are not subsidised.
Medicinal cannabis products are out of reach of most New Zealanders, even those
who have a life threatening or debilitating condition.

So despite the medical scheme, patients are still forced to source illicit products, putting them at risk of a conviction, We had high hopes for the medical scheme, but unfortunately it’s just not a model that puts the patient first.

Legal cannabis would mean easier access to a wider range of products, and would make prices more affordable. Patients will be able to access the medicine that works for them without fear of prosecution.

Cannabis will remain strictly illegal for anyone under 20 years old.

The Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill creates a set of rules to allow adults who choose to use cannabis to purchase cannabis products, with strong consumer protections. You cannot buy or use cannabis if you are under 20-years old.

This sends a very clear message that cannabis is for adults only.

Another way we can send that clear message to young people is through better drug education in schools, which will be funded with the tax on cannabis. Marketing and advertising will not be allowed – you won’t see the All Blacks sponsored by a cannabis company.

The Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill has very tough punishments for those who sell or supply cannabis to young people.

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Potency levels will be limited for safety.

A new agency called the Cannabis Regulatory Authority will be responsible for setting limits for different classes of cannabis product. To do that, they’ll consult with a wide range of stakeholders including Māori and young people. They’ll look at current potency levels in NZ and consider how they can reduce problematic use, and prevent over-consumption, while reducing the size of the illicit market. The Government has suggested an initial maximum potency of 15% THC for cannabis flower and 5 mg THC per package for edibles.

Setting a maximum potency level is an important way to promote safer cannabis use, and we’re pleased with the careful processes in place to make sure this is done well.

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Sales restricted to licensed premises.

Licensed shops will be stand alone and will only sell cannabis – there will be no access at dairies or supermarkets. When giving out licences for specialist cannabis stores, the Cannabis Authority must give priority to not-for-profit entities that can demonstrate a social benefit to the community, and take into account where shops will be located. This means stores won’t be situated near schools or churches, and stores won’t be concentrated in poorer neighbourhood as has happened with bottle shops and pokies.

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No consumption in public spaces.

Other than in licensed consumption spaces, it will only be legal to consume at home – not on the street, or in parks.

We won’t be seeing Amsterdam-style cafes here. We will have some consumption spaces, but in most venues, cannabis will be BYO. Smoke-free laws will apply. The spaces will be focused on providing a safe space to use so that people do not use cannabis in public. They’ll have strict opening hours, and will be hard to spot from the street so that they don’t attract new customers, particularly young people.

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There will be plain packaging and clear warning labels, with zero advertising.

There will be no advertising, special deals, sponsorship or fancy packaging allowed and significant penalties for companies and individuals who breach this.

There will be strict guidelines around the display of cannabis products both inside shops and point of sale will contain health information and warning signs. No products will be visible outside stores.

Standard products such as dried and fresh cannabis can be displayed inside, and high risk products (such as edibles and concentrates) can’t.

Frequently Asked Questions
Answering some of the common questions

The Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill restricts cannabis sales and use to adults over 20-years old. This sends a very clear message that cannabis is for adults only.

Another way we can send that clear message to young people is through better drug education in schools, which will have extra funding from the new tax on cannabis.

The Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill has very tough punishments for those who sell or supply cannabis to young people.

Only specialist stores licensed by the government will be able to sell cannabis.

We don’t yet know how much legal cannabis will cost, but we do know that one of the purposes of the Bill is to ensure that the retail price of cannabis reflects a “balance between the harm reduction objectives that seek to lower the overall use of cannabis… at the same time, drawing people away from the illicit cannabis market”.

Cannabis use will be allowed in private homes and specifically licensed premises. People won’t be allowed to use cannabis in public spaces.

Yes, limits on potency will be set within the regulations. The Cannabis Regulatory Authority will be responsible for setting those limits for different classes of cannabis product. To do that, they’ll consult with a wide range of stakeholders including Māori and young people. They’ll look at current potency levels in NZ and consider how they can reduce problematic use, and prevent over-consumption, while reducing the size of the illicit market. The Government has suggested an initial maximum potency of 15% THC for cannabis flower and 5 mg of THC per package for edibles. This is a good starting point for further discussion.

There will also be a progressive excise tax for cannabis producers to pay on fresh cannabis, based on weight and potency (the higher the THC level, the higher the price). This will encourage users to consume lower potency products. This is good because high potency products can be risky to vulnerable groups such as those who use heavily, and young people

No advertising for cannabis products will be allowed, and consumer and health warnings will be required.

The legal cannabis market will be regulated by the Cannabis Regulatory Authority. The Agency will be responsible for things including:
– the licensing system for growers and sellers of cannabis
– setting limits on THC and CBD
– monitoring compliance of license holders to ensure legal cannabis products are high quality and accurately labelled
– public education campaigns about the harms of cannabis

People will be able to apply for a licence to either grow or sell cannabis. People won’t be able to hold licences for both at the same time, meaning no single company will have control over the entire market.

There will be a cap on the total amount of cannabis that can be cultivated, with a quota set aside for production by small scale producers. No company will be allowed to produce more than 20% of the entire legal market.

When approving cultivation and retail licences, the Cannabis Authority is required to give more weight to applications that benefit communities affected by prohibition. This includes partnerships and jobs for those disproportionately affected by prohibition, including Māori and those who are economically deprived.

Decriminalisation of cannabis would mean people wouldn’t be criminalised for their cannabis use, but the black market would still control supply. Legalisation means the Government takes control over the cannabis market, from seed to sale. This means we can implement regulations that limit access to adults only and make cannabis safer. That’s not possible unless we legalise.

Other than in licensed consumption spaces, it will only be legal to consume at home – not on the street, or in parks.

We won’t be seeing Amsterdam-style cafes here. We will have consumption spaces, but in most venues, cannabis will be BYO. Smoke-free laws will apply. The spaces will be focused on providing a safe space to use so that people do not use cannabis in public. They’ll have strict opening hours, and will be hard to spot from the street so that they don’t attract new customers, particularly young people.

The penalties for breaching the law will (mostly) be low. These low penalties are mostly fines – possessing more than 14g is a $200 fine, and there’s a $500 fine if you grow more than four, but fewer than ten, plants per household. Fines for selling to people under 20 are much higher – they could see someone go to prison for up to four years.

This is inconsistent with how we punish people selling tobacco and alcohol to young people (a $5000 fine for tobacco and $2000 for alcohol). But we expect the public will be pleased to see that the Government is taking the issue of underage purchase very seriously.

The range of cannabis products available, including edibles, will be heavily restricted.

The vast range of products found in the US like cannabis gummies and lollipops will not be permitted. Following the introduction of a legal cannabis regime, cannabis plants and seeds would be immediately approved for sale. Then it would be up to the Cannabis Authority to approve other products. Products that appeal to children and cannabis infused drinks will not be allowed. Edible cannabis products will need to be baked and sold at room temperature.

The intention is that new products not currently available in New Zealand won’t be allowed under the new regime. This will allow the Authority to slowly introduce new products if there is evidence their introduction won’t increase cannabis related harm.

A progressive excise tax will be imposed based on cannabis weight and potency (the higher the THC level, the higher the price). This will encourage users to consume lower potency products. A levy, like that applied to alcohol and gambling, will fund services to reduce cannabis harm. These price controls will help lower the overall use of cannabis while also drawing people away from the illicit cannabis market.

We don’t yet know exactly how much legal cannabis will cost, but the draft Bill asserts that the retail price of cannabis needs to balance reducing cannabis use with drawing people away from the illicit market.

The prices will be carefully reviewed and regulated so they are at “market rate” and we don’t inadvertently drive people underground.

The cannabis industry will be equitable for all New Zealanders and you will be able to apply for a job within it as you would with any other industry.

CLR The Bill

Read the full Draft Bill

The Cannabis Legislation and Control Bill sets out the rules for cannabis if a majority of New Zealanders vote “Yes” in the referendum in October.

View the full version of the bill people will be voting on.

View The Bill

The Referendum

Voters will be asked to vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to the question “Do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill?”

If a majority vote “Yes”, the Bill will go through normal Parliamentary processes to become law. This will include a select committee where the public has a chance to comment on the details of the Bill.

Click below for the official government referendums website where there is information in a variety of formats and languages.

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