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Cannabis Legalisation And Control Bill: Once-in-a-generation Chance To Put Public Health First

The Helen Clark Foundation welcomes the Government’s release of the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill on which New Zealanders will vote on in the referendum due on 19 September.

“The Bill delivers a regulated and controlled legal market for cannabis in New Zealand to replace the broken status quo. A significant number of New Zealanders use cannabis. The Bill puts controls around that use of and access to cannabis.”

“The regime set out in the Bill restrict legal cannabis use to adults over twenty years of age. Adults who choose to use cannabis will be able to purchase cannabis safely from a licensed provider.”

“The Bill makes it clear that a New Zealand market for legal cannabis would not be a ‘free-for-all’. It bans the advertising and display of cannabis products, and puts strict conditions around sale.”

“Cannabis use must be treated as a health and social issue, rather than a criminal one. Thus, the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill is a significant step in the right direction. Considerations of public health and well-being are rightly at the forefront of the thinking behind the Bill.”

“Criminalisation of cannabis use has resulted in both supply of unregulated product from vendors acting illegally and to many thousands of New Zealanders receiving criminal convictions over many years. Cannabis legalisation and regulation will free up valuable police resources and allow them to be better allocated to other issues deserving their attention.”

“The Helen Clark Foundation supports a YES vote in the referendum on 19 September. The evidence strongly supports a regulated and controlled legal market. Cannabis use is a reality in New Zealand under prohibition - it is estimated that eighty per cent of New Zealanders will have tried cannabis by the time they are 25-years-old. The referendum is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to put effective controls around the availability of this widely used drug.”

“The release now of the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill should enable informed debate around the issues in the run up to the referendum. Survey results released in February 2020 by the Helen Clark Foundation and the New Zealand Drug Foundation showed that support for cannabis legalisation grows when people know more about the controls proposed on cannabis use and sale in the legislation.”

About the Helen Clark Foundation:

The Helen Clark Foundation is an independent public policy think tank based in Auckland. Building on the lifetime of public service by patron Helen Clark, it aims to contribute to policy debates on how to achieve a more inclusive, sustainable, and peaceful society. It is non-partisan.

The Helen Clark Foundation’s report on the cannabis referendum – ‘The Case for YES’ – can be found here.

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