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Cannabis Legalisation And Control Bill: World-leading Public Health Law

The Government today released the full and final Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill that New Zealanders will be voting for at the referendum on 19 September.

“These final new details strengthen the controls from the initial draft, making it a world-leading piece of public health legislation. The Bill delivers government-controlled regulations over the production, supply and use of cannabis, with the intent of reducing harms, particularly for young people,” said Ross Bell, Drug Foundation Executive Director.

“At a time when comprehensive public health controls are proving their worth and saving lives, we applaud the Government’s work at designing cannabis regulations appropriate for New Zealand’s local needs. This final version gives all the information New Zealanders need to help inform their vote.”

“In true Kiwi fashion, this Bill doesn’t just follow in the footsteps of other nations, instead the government has created terms and conditions to control cannabis which meet the key needs of New Zealand.

“There are almost 600,000 regular consumers currently accessing cannabis from an un-controlled, illicit market. This Bill doesn’t create a cannabis market, it puts solid public health controls over this existing market,” said Mr Bell.

The Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill creates a system of licenses and regulation over cultivation, the quality and strength of products that are made, where those can be sold and who they can be sold to:

  • Cannabis will only be available to adults aged 20 years or older; It will not be sold to teenagers.
  • Only specialist stores licenced by the government will be able to sell cannabis
  • The tax collected from the sale of cannabis will be put towards health and education programmes for all New Zealanders
  • The potency of cannabis will be limited
  • Cannabis use will be allowed in private homes and specifically licensed premises; it cannot be used in public
  • No advertising for cannabis products will be allowed, and consumer and health warnings will be required
  • A phased approach will be taken to carefully control when new and novel products are allowed to be sold.

“Under this Bill, the government takes control over the cannabis market, from seed to sale. It raises new revenue with an excise tax and special cannabis levy to be spent on treatment and drug education services for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

“A legal regulated market for adults will free up Police time and resources. Police spend almost $200 million on cannabis enforcement and convictions, which should be put to better use protecting us all from serious crimes.

“Legalisation will improve access to products for patients. While medicinal cannabis is technically legal with a prescription, most Kiwis are still unable to access these products, stating cost and availability of products as barriers.

“Legal cannabis means easier access to a wider range of affordable products, which can be accessed without fear of prosecution.

“With a strict R20 rule, the Cannabis Control Bill sends a very clear message that cannabis is for adults only. Taxes will be put aside for extra investment in drug education for young people, and marketing and advertising will be banned to help prevent and reduce youth use.

“This is a Bill that is uniquely New Zealand and something to be proud of. It is evidence-informed and focused on public health, with strong protections for vulnerable and young New Zealanders. It will bring much needed new revenue to regions laid low by Covid-19, and will put hundreds of millions of new tax dollars into health and education programmes. For these reasons, the Drug Foundation endorses a ‘Yes’ vote.

“We encourage all New Zealanders to read the Cannabis Control Bill and see for themselves. This is about putting sensible controls around an existing market, and it will mean a net gain for public health,” said Mr Bell.

A copy of the Bill can be accessed here: https://www.referendum.govt.nz/cannabis/index.html

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