The weed wireNew Zealand unveils final cannabis bill details for 2020 referendum

The Cannabis Legalisation and Control bill will need 50% support to pass during September referendum
Michelle Gamage Michelle GamageMay 4, 20208 min

Kiwis got a glimpse of what a legal, regulated cannabis market might look like in their country late last week.

On Friday, the New Zealand government unveiled it’s Cannabis Legalization and Control bill, which outlined national rules for growing, selling, buying, and consuming cannabis within a legal market.

Voters will decide on the bill through a non-binding referendum in September that will require 50 per cent support to pass. The incoming government would then be responsible for introducing the cannabis bill through New Zealand’s federal legislature.

If the bill passes, it would not affect the country’s medical cannabis program that was launched April 1 or change hemp laws.

Read more: New Zealand launches medical cannabis program

The cannabis referendum was inspired by decades of work by activists, advocates and researchers — as well as over two years of negotiation between New Zealand’s political parties — says Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick in a Twitter statement.

The referendum question was first proposed in December when the country announced the first details of the measure, but Friday’s update finalized the policy framework.

Read more: New Zealand and Brazil move to relax cannabis policies

If it passes, Kiwis 20 years and up will be able to purchase and possess up to 14 grams of weed, or 70 grams of fresh cannabis, 14 plant seeds, 210 grams of edibles (around 17 cookies) or 3.5 grams of concentrates. While people could also carry up to 980 grams of “liquids,” weed-infused beverages won’t be allowed.

Residents will be able to grow up to two plants per person, or four per household, but growing weed in public is a no-no.

While public use will be prohibited, the country would permit licensed consumption cafes. The venues could be a mix of both retail and consumption, or a bring-your-own lounge setting. The cannabis cafes wouldn’t be allowed to advertise and employees and customers would need to be at least 20 years old to enter. The workers would be responsible for cutting people off if they bought or consumed too much.

Edibles would only be allowed to be sold as baked products that don’t need to be cooked or refrigerated and are not allowed to appeal to children in any way. Labels would also list THC and CBD potency.

New Zealand proposed banning all advertising, promotion or sponsorship of a product outside of a label with a company name. Canada’s Cannabis Act has similar prohibitions, but at least one company has pushed for a more creative interpretation of the promotional regulations.

Read more: Lack of clarity on promotional rules perpetuates haze of regulatory guesswork

The Cannabis Regulatory Authority would oversee the market and ensure the industry promotes well-being, reduces harms associated with cannabis and reduces overall use of weed over time.

The New Zealand government would cap the number of licences that one company can posess, with no single company allowed more than 20 per cent.

When companies apply for a licence, the authority will grant them a cap percentage based on how well that business partners with a community harmed by cannabis prohibition; if it builds community partnership or generates social benefit; and if it promotes employment and career opportunities. Part of the cap would be set aside for micro-cultivators.

If the country votes to legalize cannabis the government could be collecting an additional NZ$490 million per year in taxes, estimates the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research.

Read more: Oceania weed market could generate US$1.5 billion by 2024: report

The country’s newly expanding medical market is also attracting international players like Canada’s MediPharm Labs Corp. (TSX: LABS). The company’s subsidiary, MediPharm Labs Australia, inked a supply deal with Cannasouth Plant Research New Zealand Limited on Monday, for a range of white label products, according to a Monday statement.

“As New Zealand is set to start seeing increased demand from patients for medicinal cannabis, MediPharm Labs will be ready to provide patients with a reliable supply of innovative pharma-quality products they can trust,” Warren Everitt, CEO of MediPharm Labs Australia said.

Top image via Deposit Photos

 

michelle@mugglehead.com

@missmishelle

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