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New Zealand To Vote On Cannabis Legalization On September 19th

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It’s official – New Zealand will hold its election on September 19th, 2020. Voters in New Zealand will decide whether or not to pass a cannabis legalization measure on Election Day 2020. The New Zealand Electoral Commission announced the official date of the election earlier today.

According to an official government page dedicated to the New Zealand cannabis referendum, “The Government has released a draft Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill for public consideration. The draft Bill describes the key aspects of proposed rules about growing, selling and purchasing cannabis for recreational purposes. The Government is publishing a draft Bill at this point to ensure that New Zealanders are informed about the direction being taken and the decisions that have been made to date. The final draft Bill, which will be released in early 2020, will contain more detail and take into account feedback on the current draft.”

An official release date for the final draft of the bill has yet to be announced. Until then, below are some of the provisions that were included in the draft version of the bill:

  • Proposed ballot language – “Do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill?”
  • Sets legal age at 20 years old
  • Confines consumption to private residences and licensed premises
  • Prescribed conditions for personal cultivation and gifting
  • Licensed supply chain

The referendum is not necessarily binding, at least according to some lawmakers in New Zeland, although lawmakers in New Zealand’s majority have stated previously that they plan to treat the vote as being binding.

According to the previously cited government page, “If more than 50% of the vote is ‘Yes’, recreational use of cannabis won’t become legal straight away. After the election, the incoming Government will need to follow a process to introduce a Bill to Parliament that would make recreational use of cannabis legal. This process would include the opportunity for the public to share their thoughts and ideas on how the law might work.”

To date, only Uruguay and Canada have passed legalization measures and implemented adult-use cannabis legalization. Mexico and Italy have had court decisions rendered that found cannabis prohibition to be unconstitutional, however, neither of the nations have implemented adult-use cannabis legalization.

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