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Law New Zealand

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member
New Zealand Government Unveils Final Marijuana Legalization Measure For 2020 Ballot

New Zealand’s government has revealed the final details of a marijuana legalization proposal that will appear on the September general election ballot.

Voters will decide on the policy change through a referendum, where they will be asked “yes” or “no” to approving the “Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill.”

Early details about the measure were released in December. And on Friday, the government shared the full proposal, which would make it legal for adults 20 and older to purchase and possess cannabis, cultivate two plants for personal use and visit marijuana “coffee shops” where on-site consumption would be allowed.

Individuals would be able to purchase up to 14 grams of cannabis from licensed retailers and also gift up to 14 grams to another adult.

At the beginning of implementation if voters approve the measure, retailers could only sell cannabis plants and seeds. But a regulatory body established under the bill called the Cannabis Regulatory Authority would later be able to approve “the introduction of other licensed products for sale, including concentrates and cannabis edibles, through regulations,” according to a summary.

“Medicinal cannabis and hemp will not be affected by the outcome of the referendum,” a summary says. “Medicinal use of cannabis will still be allowed if prescribed by a doctor, and hemp will still be legal.”

The government explained that the purpose of the legislation is to mitigate the illicit market, promote public health and ensure quality control on marijuana products. Cannabis businesses would be banned from advertising under the measure.

If more than 50 percent of voters approve the ballot question, cannabis wouldn’t be immediately legalized. Rather, it would then be incumbent on the legislature to pass the bill that is the subject of the referendum, which would come after legislators gathered public input on the reform move.

While some wanted the referendum to be self-executing, meaning the law would take effect as soon as it was approved by voters, this version is “binding” in the sense that lawmakers are effectively required to pass the bill—but it could still be amended, and it’s not clear how significant those changes could end up being.

According to a report released this week by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, the country stands to generate $490 million in tax revenue annually from legal cannabis sales—though that projection is dependent on illicit sales being largely replaced by the regulated market.

The three main political parties reached an agreement about the basic details of the legalization referendum and released that information in May 2019. The referendum on the issue is the product of a deal that the Green Party struck after agreeing to help install Labour Party head Jacinda Ardern as the prime minister following the 2017 election.

“It has taken two and a half years of negotiation behind the scenes across our Parliament and decades of work by activist, advocates and researchers, who have sought to understand how best to create an evidence-informed approach to reduce drug harm in our communities,” MP Chlöe Swarbrick of the Green party said. “We are taking this conversation out of petty partisan politics and placing it in the hands of you.

The Green party also said that with the new legislation there is “now have a clear vision of how a safe, regulated cannabis market would work in Aotearoa, and a chance to ditch the dangerous black-market for good.”

Drug policy reform advocates outside the government also praised the new legislation.

“These final new details strengthen the controls from the initial draft, making it a world-leading piece of public health legislation. The bill delivers government-controlled regulations over the production, supply and use of cannabis, with the intent of reducing harms, particularly for young people,” Ross Bell, executive director of the New Zealand Drug Foundation, said.

“At a time when comprehensive public health controls are proving their worth and saving lives, we applaud the Government’s work at designing cannabis regulations appropriate for New Zealand’s local needs,” he added. “This final version gives all the information New Zealanders need to help inform their vote”

It remains to be seen whether New Zealand voters will back the proposal, as polling on the issue has elicited mixed results. One of the most recent surveys, released in March, showed that 54 percent of residents are in favor of legalizing marijuana for personal use—a six percentage point increase since the previous poll.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

New Zealand To Vote On Cannabis Legalization Saturday

New Zealanders are getting ready to vote on country-wide cannabis legalization.

Voters in New Zealand will vote on Saturday on a nationwide referendum that would legalize the use and possession of cannabis by those 20 years of age and older. If passed, the vote would make New Zealand only the third country worldwide to legalize cannabis at the national level, joining Uruguay and Canada.

The referendum, known as the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill, would require the New Zealand Parliament to establish rules and regulations for the commercial production and sale of cannabis and cannabis-infused products. The measure would also permit adults at least 20 years old to purchase up to 14 grams of herbal cannabis per day. Home cultivation of up to four cannabis plants per household would also be allowed under the ballot measure. Under current New Zealand law, the use of marijuana by adults is a crime punishable by up to three months in jail.

Last week, a group of New Zealand’s leading public health professionals expressed their support for the legalization referendum in an editorial published in the New Zealand Medical Journal. Professor Michael Baker of the University of Otago, one of the health experts who helped guide New Zealand’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, said that the country is a world leader in using “innovative and evidence-informed approaches” to addressing complicated public health issues.

“It’s time to take the same fresh approach to cannabis law and put public health first,” Baker said.

“Our prohibition model for cannabis is outdated and doesn’t work,” Baker added. “Supporting law reform is about reframing cannabis use as a health issue which opens up new, more effective ways of minimizing harms caused by this drug.”

Polling Reveals A Tight Race​

Public opinion polling on the referendum has revealed a tight race, with one survey released last month showing that 49.5% of respondents were in favor of legalization and 49.5% were against, while 1% gave no opinion.

Paul Manning, chief executive of Helius Therapeutics, a biotechnology company that has commissioned polling on the legalization of recreational cannabis in New Zealand for two years, suggested that the race is too close to call.

“The ‘yes’ vote has firmed up slightly, but it’s still looking very close, with public opinion set to keep shifting right up until voting closes,” Manning said.

“The quality of debate and the strength of arguments for or against legalisation in the next two weeks are now critical,” Manning added. “Turn-out of 18- to 34-year-olds will also be key. Young adults are the strongest supporters of the bill, but they also have the lowest registration and intention to vote.”

Andrew Geddis, a public law professor at the University of Otago, said that cannabis legalization has never enjoyed overwhelming support in New Zealand.

“Those wanting to see a yes vote had to convince a reasonable number of people that their previous prohibitionist views were mistaken,” he said. “At the moment, it doesn’t look like they have been able to do so and time really is running out.”

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark of the Labour Party, who now serves as the chair of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, launched a publicity campaign calling on voters to support the legalization referendum.

“I think there’s everything to play for with this one,” said Clark. “If you averaged out all the polls, it’s a tough race but it’s doable.”

Early voting for the October 17 election has already begun. The vote was originally scheduled for September 19, but was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

Don’t Expect Results On Saturday’s New Zealand Marijuana Legalization Vote For A Few Weeks


New Zealand voters will have a chance to decide on a referendum to legalize marijuana nationwide on Saturday—but don’t expect to see the results until a few weeks later.

Early voting has been open since October 3, and advocates have been strongly pushing for a “yes” vote on the initiative, which would legalize cannabis for adults aged 20 and older. But recent polling indicates that it’s going to be a close race, likely adding to the anxiety of the delay in releasing results after Election Day.

“We won’t count referendum votes on election night,” the nation’s Electoral Commission says. Instead, preliminary results for the cannabis referendum, as well as a separate ballot question on end of life choices, will be posted on October 30. The final results for the ballot measures and the general election will be declared on November 6.


Voting in the referendums is your chance to have your say on two important issues, but it’s up to you whether you vote. You can vote in one, both, or neither of the referendums if you want to.
Find out more about what you’ll be voting on by heading to: https://t.co/im3KuhkNc7pic.twitter.com/xGVyCJJWox
— Electoral Commission | Te Kaitiaki Take Kōwhiri (@ElectoralCommNZ) October 15, 2020


Under the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill, unveiled by the government in April, adults would be able to purchase and possess marijuana, cultivate two plants for personal use and visit cannabis “coffee shops” where on-site consumption would be allowed.

They could purchase up to 14 grams of cannabis from licensed retailers and also gift up to 14 grams to another adult.

If more than 50 percent of voters approve the ballot question, marijuana wouldn’t be immediately legalized. Rather, it would still be incumbent on Parliament to enact the legislation.



While some wanted the referendum to be self-executing, meaning the law would take effect as soon as it was approved by voters, this version is “binding” in the sense that lawmakers are effectively required to pass the bill—but it could still be amended, and it’s not clear how significant any changes could end up being.

The three political parties that are part of the nation’s minority government coalition reached an agreement about the basic details of the legalization referendum and released that information in May 2019. The referendum on the issue is the product of a deal that the Green Party struck after agreeing to help install Labour Party head Jacinda Ardern as the prime minister following the 2017 election.

After all of this work and campaigning around the legalization proposal, however, it remains deeply unclear where voters will ultimately come down.

A poll released by the Helen Clark Foundation and the New Zealand Drug Foundation earlier this month found 49 percent support for the referendum and 45 percent are in opposition. Meanwhile, a separate survey from August showed just 39 percent of respondents favor the measure while 46 percent are against it.

An internal poll from the Green party that was shared with The Spinoff showed that, of the 1,286 respondents surveyed from October 9-12, 278 had already voted and 50 percent of those individuals were against the referendum, versus 47 percent who back the proposal. Of the remaining 1,008 respondents, 45 percent said they were in favor of the policy change, 41 percent said there were against it and 14 percent remained undecided.

If approved, New Zealand would become only the third country in the world with a national law allowing legal marijuana sales, after Uruguay and Canada. A handful of other nations have policies that allow possession and home cultivation.

Meanwhile, Ardern, the prime minister, acknowledged during a recent debate that she has consumed cannabis in the past but has refused to say how she plans to vote on the referendum.


This was the moment @patrickgowernz pushed the leaders on the issue of recreational cannabis, and things got prickly when it came to Jacinda Ardern's response. #Decision20pic.twitter.com/0UyGcUXmtS
— Newshub (@NewshubNZ) September 30, 2020


The nation’s justice minister said on Thursday marijuana prohibition has failed, but he added that the government has “no intention” of past cannabis convictions.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

New Zealand Marijuana Legalization Trails In Early Referendum Results, But More Votes To Be Counted

A New Zealand referendum to legalize marijuana is trailing, according to preliminary election results released on Friday. But with hundreds of thousands of ballots remaining to be counted, the final outcome won’t be known until late next week.

Polls in the country closed on October 17, but elections officials don’t count referendum votes on election night. Instead, the preliminary results were tallied over the subsequent days and released Friday afternoon local time in New Zealand, with final results expected to be announced on November 6.

According to the initial election data, forty-six percent—1,114,485 people—voted for the referendum and 53 percent—1,281,818 people—were against it.

But the final outcome is still unknown. The early numbers don’t include an estimated480,000 or more so-called special votes, which are expected to account for roughly 17 percent of all cast ballots. The category includes votes by citizens overseas, those who only recently registered to vote as well as people serving prison sentences of less than three years. It also includes students who are attending schools out of the districts where they are normally registered to vote.

Observers expect the special votes will be disproportionately in favor of legalization, which means the measure may still have a chance of passage.

Still, according to Justice Minister Andrew Little, it is “highly unlikely” that the result will flip when all is said and done. “For the cannabis referendum result to change it would require roughly 70 percent of the special votes to go in favor,” he said.
That said, Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick, who has been at the forefront of the nation’s legalization debate, said she remains “optimistic.”

“Today’s result shows what we had long assumed, that it was going to be really close and that we need to wait for the specials to be sure of the result,” she said. “We have said from the outset that this would always come down to voter turnout. We’ve had record numbers of special votes.”


The referendum is on a knife’s edge. If 67% of the half a million specials are in favour of legal regulation, we win.
— Chlöe Swarbrick (@_chloeswarbrick) October 30, 2020


Win or lose, New Zealand’s referendum marks the first time an entire country’s voters have been asked to decide whether to legalize cannabis. Unveiled in April, the federal government’s proposal would allow adults 20 and older to purchase and possess marijuana as well as cultivate up to two plants for personal use. The proposal would also open cannabis coffeeshops, where on-site consumption would be permitted.

A government levy on marijuana sales would be used to boost national health services, though it hasn’t yet been decided what the rate would be.

The public referendum resulted from a deal the country’s Green Party struck after agreeing to help install Labour Party leader Jacina Ardern as prime minister following the country’s 2017 election.


Today I’m thinking of the folks I’ve met who’ve been prosecuted and penalised under prohibition.
Legalisation would fix the historical injustice that made them criminals.
Others who flippantly admit to the same crime became politicians and business leaders.
— Chlöe Swarbrick (@_chloeswarbrick) October 30, 2020


Passage of the referendum would make New Zealand just the third country with a national law allowing cannabis sales, following Uruguay and Canada. A handful of other nations, meanwhile, have policies allowing personal possession and home cultivation.

Going into the election, polls of likely voters showed a tight race, with opponents leading in some surveys and supporters ahead in others.

Even if voters are shown to have ultimately approved the referendum when all the ballots are counted next week, legalization wouldn’t happen automatically. Parliament would still need to enact the proposed legislation, and lawmakers could make changes along the way.

People with past cannabis-related convictions likely wouldn’t see their records cleared under the plan. Little, the minister of justice, said earlier this month that his office has no plans to erase past convictions even if the referendum passes. He nevertheless acknowledged that the drug war isn’t working.

“Up to 80 percent of New Zealanders are saying in surveys that they have at some time in their lives tried cannabis,” Little said. “Prohibition is not prohibiting cannabis. It’s in our communities, so it is time to decide on whether to control it.”


On provisional results of the two referendums voted on in the 2020 General Election, the electorate has voted in support of the End of Life Choice referendum, and against the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill becoming law. https://t.co/LVHKmH4c2l
— Andrew Little (@AndrewLittleMP) October 30, 2020

But on Friday, after the preliminary results were announced, the justice minister said that “there are no other plans that we have for broader drug reform.”


But if voters ultimately reject the measure, Ardern, the prime minister, has indicated there may still be a path forward for some reforms, even if it’s not full-scale legalization. The official, whose party won handily in this month’s elections, said use should be treated as a public health matter rather than a criminal justice problem.

“Regardless of the outcome of the vote, we will look at the way the Misuse of Drugs Act amendments are being applied, making sure we’ve got the addiction and treatment facilities that we need, and making sure those referrals are happening in the cases where they should,” she said on the campaign trail this month, according to the New Zealand Herald.

Ardern refused to say during the campaign whether she planned to vote for the referendum. But on Friday, after the preliminary results were announced, her office said that she voted in favor of it.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

New Zealand Cannabis Legalization Initiative Fails At Ballot Box

New Zealand didn’t legalize cannabis. They did advance a law regarding euthanasia, however.

Preliminary election results in New Zealand indicate that a cannabis legalization initiative has been rejected by voters, although some votes still remain to be counted. Totals from the election held on October 17 show that 53% of voters chose not to support the initiative, while 46% voted in favor of marijuana legalization. A second referendum to legalize euthanasia in New Zealand appeared to be headed for approval with 65% of the vote in favor, according to results released on Friday by the Electoral Commission in Wellington.

Under the cannabis initiative, possession, use, and home cultivation of recreational cannabis by adults 20 and older would be legalized. The measure would also establish a regulated market for commercial cannabis sales, and shops and cafes for the sale and consumption of cannabis would be licensed by the government.

Supporters of the initiative argued that legalization would eliminate the influence of criminal organizations in the marijuana market in New Zealand, where 80% of the population reports trying cannabis by age 20. Advocates for the measure also noted that the country’s drug laws are unfairly enforced, with indigenous Maori citizens three times more likely to be arrested and convicted on cannabis charges than non-Maori individuals.

Asher Etherington of Make It Legal New Zealand, a group that campaigned for the initiative’s passage, expressed disappointment at the election results released on Friday.

“If no voters thought that by voting down this opportunity, Kiwis would cease to consume cannabis, they have not been paying attention,” Etherington said. “The cannabis reform lobby here has fought for decades and is prepared to fight for decades more to achieve positive reform.”

Tuari Potiki, chairman of the New Zealand Drug Foundation, called for continued drug reform efforts and the elimination of cannabis criminalization, saying that punitive measures are disproportionately borne by the Maori and young people.

“Although a majority of New Zealanders did not vote for the proposed model of legalization, the debate has shown a clear public desire for legal change in some form,” Potiki said in a statement.

Prime Minister Criticised For Lack Of Support​

Supporters of the measure criticized Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who easily won re-election in last week’s vote. She had failed to publicly support the initiative, despite admitting in a debate late last month that she had used marijuana “a long time ago.” Only on Friday did she finally confirm that she had voted in favor of the measure.

Richard Shaw, a politics professor at Massey University, said that the results of the election could have “been a whole lot tighter had the P.M. taken the position in public that we now know she took on the ballot herself,” adding that “there’s a certain measure of disaffection, frustration, and no small amount of anger that she’s now indicated she has this position and hasn’t clarified why she didn’t take this position before the election.”

Although approximately 480,000 “special votes” are yet to be counted, the chance for a change to the preliminary results when the final count is released on November 6 seems slim. On Friday, Justice Minister Andrew Little said it was “highly unlikely” that the initiative would prevail in the final results and said that the government has “no other plans in terms of drug law reform.”
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

New Zealand Voters Narrowly Reject Nationwide Marijuana Referendum In Final Vote Tally


New Zealand voters have rejected a referendum to legalize marijuana, final results released by the government on Friday show.

While polls closed on October 17, New Zealand does not complete its count for ballot questions on Election Day. Preliminary results published last month showed the measure trailing by a notable margin, but so-called “special votes” still had to be counted before the outcome was finalized.

Those roughly 480,000 remaining votes did not move the needle far enough in favor of reform, however, the final data released by the government on Friday afternoon local time showed.

The referendum ended up falling short by a 48.4 percent in favor to 50.7 percent against margin.

The preliminary result on October 30 had the measure trailing 46.1 percent to 53.1 percent.

Screen-Shot-2020-11-05-at-8.02.08-PM.png

Via New Zealand Electoral Commission

Special votes came from citizens who were abroad, people who recently registered, those serving prison sentences of fewer than three years and students attending schools in districts outside of where they’re registered to vote.

Polls heading into the election showed mixed results.

A poll released by the Helen Clark Foundation and the New Zealand Drug Foundation in September found 49 percent support for the referendum and 45 percent opposition. A separate survey from August showed just 39 percent of respondents favor the measure while 46 percent are against it.

Advocates are understandably disappointed by the outcome, but the vote even being held in the first place was a historic development, as it marked the first time voters anywhere in the world had the opportunity to decide on a nationwide legalization policy.

Canada and Uruguay have legalized nationally, but those policies were enacted legislatively. A handful of other nations have policies that allow possession and home cultivation.

The government’s proposal to allow adults 20 and older purchase and possess marijuana—and cultivate up to two plants—was first unveiled in April. It also would have allowed for cannabis consumption lounges where people could use marijuana on-site.

The three political parties that were part of New Zealand’s last minority government coalition reached an agreement about the basic details of the legalization referendum and released that information in May 2019. The referendum on the issue was the product of a deal that the Green Party struck after agreeing to help install Labour Party head Jacinda Ardern as the prime minister following the 2017 election.
 

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