New Zealand Releases Adult-Use Cannabis Legislation
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New Zealand Releases Adult-Use Cannabis Legislation

New Zealanders will vote on legalization this September.

May 4, 2020

The New Zealand government published legislation May 1 to legalize adult-use cannabis, according to a Cannabis Wire report.

New Zealanders will vote on the proposal this September, the news outlet reported.

The country launched its medical cannabis program last month, according to Cannabis Wire, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised a vote on adult-use legalization when elected in 2017.

The Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill would broadly legalize cannabis use and sales for adults 20 and older, and would allow adults to grow two plants or up to four total plants per household for personal use, Cannabis Wire reported. The legislation would legalize the possession of up to 14 grams of dried cannabis, according to the news outlet, which equates to 70 grams of fresh cannabis, 14 cannabis seeds, 210 grams of edibles, 980 grams of liquids or 3.5 grams of concentrates.

Those under the age of 20 who are convicted of cannabis possession will not face criminal charges, but will instead receive an education session, social or health service, or a fine, according to Cannabis Wire.

The legislation contains social equity provisions to allow those disproportionately impacted by prohibition to participate in the market, according to the news outlet. However, cannabis operators may not be vertically integrated under the legislation; cultivators are barred from also selling cannabis products or operating consumption spaces.

The total amount of cannabis in the market would be capped under the proposal, Cannabis Wire reported, and each licensed cultivator could produce a maximum of 20% of the total amount of cannabis in the market each year.

Similar to Canada’s adult-use cannabis program, New Zealand’s legislation allows for the sale of only cannabis seeds, plants and flower at the launch of the program, with additional product categories becoming available at a later, to-be-determined date, Cannabis Wire reported.

The bill creates a Cannabis Advisory Committee to establish additional regulations for the market, according to the news outlet.

The legislation has been met with some pushback, as the NZ Drug Foundation has expressed concern over the suggested 15% THC limit for cannabis products, according to a Newshub report.

NZ Drug Foundation Director Ross Bell told the news outlet that the THC cap should align with the potency of illicit-market cannabis, which contains roughly 6% to 8% THC.

If voters approve the legislation this fall, the government must then introduce new legislation to implement an adult-use cannabis program, Cannabis Wire reported.