New Zealand to vote on cannabis legalization

New Zealand will hold a referendum on legalizing cannabis during the 2020 general election, the government announced Tuesday.

Justice Minister Andrew Little said the vote would be binding, but it will ultimately be up to the next administration to enact the legislation.

What will New Zealanders be voting on? 

Little said voters would be asked “a simple Yes/No question on the bases of a draft piece of legislation.” The draft law will include:

  • A minimum age of 20 to use and purchase recreational cannabis
  • Regulations and commercial supply controls, limiting cannabis use and sales to licensed premises
  • A ban on advertising cannabis products
  • Limited home-growing and private cultivation options
  • A public education program

Little said the coalition government was committed “to a health-based approach to drugs, to minimize harm and take control away from criminals.”

The referendum was part of a confidence and supply agreement the Green Party negotiated with governing Labour. Greens MP  Chloe Swarbrick said the vote presented the “greatest opportunity for cannabis law reform our country has seen in 40 years.”

She added that the draft legislation will outline a clear regulatory regime to “avoid any potential of a ‘Brexit’ situation because people will know exactly what the future holds, and how these changes will be implemented.”

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