Finally, we all know what we’ll be voting on at the referendum in September. The Government’s Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill was released on 1 May, and it’s a big Yes! from us.
The Bill was written with kiwis in mind, with a focus on social equity and reducing the harms that cannabis can cause. A legal market means more money can go towards helping those who need it, and educating young people about the risks.
The Bill lays out some strong protections for young and vulnerable New Zealanders, and will directly benefit communities. Having a previous low-level drug conviction like possession won’t stop anyone from entering the legal market, which means communities that have up until now been harmed by cannabis prohibition will instead benefit though jobs and economic activity.
It’s great to see that most penalties for breaching the law won’t be excessively punitive - Health Not Handcuffs promotes treating drug use as a health issue, not a criminal issue. Possessing more than the 14g limit will be a $200 fine, and growing more than four plants – but less than 10 – per household will cost the perpetrator $500. Anyone caught selling to under-20 year-olds will receive a much higher penalty, and could go to prison for up to four years. It’s great to see the Government taking underage purchase very seriously.
It’s a Yes from us – and we hope it’s a yes from you too. Now your job is to make sure you’re enrolled to vote, and then get out and have informed conversations with everyone else about how you came to your decision.
We also need all the help we can get, so it would be great if you could get involved. That could be a little or a lot – You could form your own group, run events, hold meetings. We'll support you with ideas and resources. Together we can make a difference!
Here are the provisions in a nutshell:
- Focus on minimising social harms
- Adults only - 20-plus age limit
- Tax goes to health and education
- Potency limits will be set, and products will be labelled
- No advertising or marketing
- No public consumption
- Māori input into NZ’s harm reduction strategy, including how we allocate licences and set potency limits
- Social equity prioritised.
Got some questions? Great! For those who want to get into the details, the Drug Foundation has prepared a really good summary. Or you can read the Bill itself on the Government’s referendum website.
Join the movement, and help get this across the line.