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New Zealand Move Towards Legalising Cannabis

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A public referendum will be held in New Zealand on legalising cannabis for personal use in 2020. It is part of an agreement between the Labour and Green parties.

The Green Party will be pushing for this, as it has been a key policy with them for at least the last 20 years.

 

The director of the NZ Drug Foundation is welcoming a referendum on cannabis law reform. Ms Ardern says ‘we need a change after 42 years of drug legislation thats done nothing’. She has said previously that she doesn’t think anyone should be serving a sentence in prison for smoking cannabis.

 

Drug Foundation director Ross Bell is quoted as saying “As a country with one of the highest proportion of users in the world, its about time we got onto it. Fundamentaly, for us, its long overdue that New Zealand had a crack at its obsolete drug law. The law thats in place today, in 2017, was passed in 1975.”

 

Shane Le Brun who is the coordinator of Medical Cannabis Awareness NZ was quoted as saying “The thought of swapping out a six-pack of RGB’s for a joint will result in less harm in our community, because cannabis is significantly safer that alcohol. Its always the muppets who abuse it. And you already have that with alcohol. The real issue is doing it in such a way that it removes black market aspect and still removes the issue of people cross-intoxicating and mixing two different substances.”

 

cannabis plant photo closeup

 

Here is a rundown on what exactly New Zealanders will be voting on in the upcoming referendum:

  • Legalising cannabis for personal use. The Green Party aims to make it legal for personal use. This includes for the right to have cannabis in your possession and also cultivation of the plant, for personal use.
  • Age restriction – this will definitely be introduced but the age has not been agreed upon as of yet.
  • Driving under the influence – the law will be changed to one that is based on cannabinoid levels that impair driving
  • Legalising Medicinal cannabis – use will be without penalty for people with terminal or chronic illness and debilitating conditions and growing the plant once supported by a medical practioner
  • Making licensed medical cannabis products more accessible – the policy would hasten the timeframe in which products are licensed 
  • Lowering the barriers for manufacturers to submit new cannabis products for funding so that evidence can be gathered quickly and distributed once approval is given.

 

Free counselling would be provided for under 25’s and medical access to mental health services. Support would be available for everyone in regards to safe cannabis use and mental health.

Increases in alcohol and drug services would be significant including an overhaul of the welfare system and climate change action.

a graph of cannabis policies NZ

 

For the time being, New Zealand will continue assessing the progress of other countries who have already legalised the sale of cannabis before deciding the best course of action.

 

Other countries like Uruguay, Canada and Portugal have already taken action. Possession of small quantities is legal in some countries and certain US States. Columbia, South Africa and Spain. It is legal to grow, sell and consume in Uruguay. Some dutch coffee shops have the right to sell on the premises.

 

Medical cannabis is already available in NZ for the terminally ill but it is expensive.

 

Jacinda Ahern, 37, is New Zealand newly appointed prime minister and head of the Labour Party NZ, said she did not personally support imprisoning people for cannabis use but wanted to hear New Zealanders views. She reiterated her support on legalising personal cannabis use, saying she had always been “very open” about her opposition to criminalisation. On the flip side, she also has concerns about young people accessing a product which could clearly do harm and damage to them. 

 

We will just have to wait and see…

 

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