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New Zealand Cannabis Legalization Referendum Details Unveiled

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New Zealand lawmakers have come together on the fundamentals of a 2020 cannabis legalization referendum and are now working together on strategizing the proposed legislation.

Although the complete referendum is yet to be drafted, the country’s official plans regarding how to go about legalizing cannabis give us an inkling of what cannabis laws would look like if the proposed legislation becomes law. According to a press release by Justice Minister Andrew Little, the legislation is likely to include, “a minimum age of 20 to use and purchase recreational cannabis, regulations and commercial supply controls, limited home-growing options, a public education programme [sic], stakeholder engagement.”

The press release also announces that “Officials are now empowered to draft the legislation with stakeholder input, and the Electoral Commission will draft the referendum question to appear on the ballot. “The voters’ choice will be binding because all of the parties that make up the current Government have committed to abide by the outcome.” The document that was actually considered by the Cabinet has also been attached in the press release. The Justice Minister also stated that there will be no other government initiated referendums at the next election.

“Cabinet has agreed to hold a binding referendum at the 2020 General Election to determine whether personal use of recreational cannabis should be legalized,” Little has also written on an executive summary of the legalization plan. “If the binding nature of the referendum is to be meaningful it will be necessary to be as clear and certain about the outcome of a ‘yes’ vote as possible.”

“The referendum question should provide voters with a clear choice on this important matter,” he said. “Also, there may be merit in allowing for the public education in the lead up to the referendum to better understand the final regulatory model that is adopted.”

Chlöe Swarbrick, a Green Party member of Parliament has said that, “In line with a health-based approach, consumption will be limited to private spaces or to those that are licensed,”  “We are also guaranteeing that there is going to be no advertising because the last thing we want to do is open the door to big corporates and invite another ‘Big Tobacco’ or ‘Big Alcohol’ and replace the black market with some big corporate control.” The legislation also proposes to “provide for safe spaces for people to use cannabis away from home.”

The final referendum is expected to be released in June. Civilized reports that more than 75 percent of the New Zealand population supports legalization which is to say, the referendum stands a big chance of winning when it goes up for vote during the General Election.

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