The bill will be voted on at a referendum taking place at the 2020 General Election
Justice Minister Andrew Little released the final draft of the New Zealand government’s proposed cannabis legalisation and control bill on 1 May.
Created to regulate the production, supply and consumption of cannabis to limit harm to individuals, families and communities, an interim draft of the bill was initially posted in December. Since then, it has been updated on the New Zealand government website’s referendum page, and will be voted on at this year’s general election in September.
According to Little’s statement on the government site, changes to the initial version include the following:
- how the cannabis market would work and the phased introduction of cannabis starting with fresh and dried cannabis, cannabis plants and seeds
- how the regulation of consumption premises would work
- the approvals process for cannabis products and which products would be prohibited
- the licensing requirements
- how the bill proposes to reduce young people’s exposure to cannabis; and
- infringements and penalties
“It is important that all eligible voters have the opportunity to be informed about the upcoming referendums. The government is committed to providing impartial, unbiased information on the referendums and its process,” Little said.
The cannabis referendum query directly asks whether voters support the proposed bill or not, and only yes/no responses may be provided.
To assist voters, the government has provided plain English explainers for the cannabis referendum. Downloadable fact sheets in different languages will also be made available on the government site, along with other resources.
Little’s statement said that “explanatory material will also be included into the Electoral Commission’s enrolment update EasyVote card mailouts to voters in the lead-up to this year’s election.”
“It is important that the public feel they can meaningfully participate in the referendum. To do so, the public need to be able to access factual and impartial information,” he said. “The referendum is a commitment in the Labour-Green Confidence and Supply Agreement.”
The bill will not be modified again before the referendum takes place.