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The political classes expected to spend 2020 thinking about referendums. But until Friday, the vast majority would have been forgiven for forgetting that in a little over four months, New Zealand might get to make cannabis legal.
Along with euthanasia, voters will say yes or no to cannabis legalisation at the general election that is still set for September. A minor flurry of debate on the issue, not all of which was well-informed, withered by March, when Covid-19 dominated every conversation.
Friday’s release of the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill, which had previously appeared in draft form, tells New Zealanders what they are voting for or against. It is a cautious regime. Far from turning the country into a pot-smoker’s paradise, the bill will introduce regulations that are tougher than those for alcohol and tobacco.