We all want a happier, healthier, more equal New Zealand. For us, that means treating cannabis use as a health and social issue, not a criminal one.
Most people who use cannabis do so without harm to themselves or others. But for some, cannabis can have a serious negative impact. Those people, and their families, are the ones who deserve our focus. Prohibition has failed them. For too long, we’ve left control of cannabis to the black market, which has not done a good job of protecting our health interests. We want the government to take back control.
At the general election in 2020, we’ll all get to vote on whether cannabis should be legalised and regulated. The Government have released a draft bill that focuses on improving health outcomes and protecting young people, putting controls around use.
At the general election in 2020, voters will be asked to vote yes or no to the following question: Do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill?
The Draft Bill has been released and will be finalised early in 2020. It includes a number of key public health protections:
The Government has made a responsible start on the proposed law, setting objectives into the Bill around reducing the harms that cannabis can cause, especially to young people. They propose to set up a tightly regulated market, with oversight at every point in the supply chain.
The Government is also clear that it’s important to disempower organised crime and the illegal trade in cannabis. They want to lower damaging conviction rates and to increase safety, for example by testing and labelling products.
Importantly, the Government acknowledges that we have not always done the best job of regulating alcohol and tobacco in New Zealand: profit has repeatedly been prioritised over health. The Government appears to be committed to learning from past mistakes in this area, and has proposed a system that is tightly controlled and puts health first. Public health goals are repeatedly emphasised throughout the Bill and a specially established authority will be responsible for ensuring that these goals are regarded when regulatory decisions are made.
Cannabis will only be sold from licenced dispensaries which must follow strict guidelines.
Public health measures, such as child-proof packaging and warning labels, will also be introduced. Sponsorship would be banned, and advertising would be prohibited. Health information will be provided to all consumers.
Taking Control of Cannabis, published in September 2019, provides our analysis of the Government's initial proposals and discusses key areas we think they should include in the final bill. We recommend a strict model of cannabis regulation that will minimise harm.
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