Companies involved in the recreational cannabis industry have been excluded from the $37 billion NZ Super Fund.
The exclusion does not include companies involved with licensed and authorised medicinal cannabis, the fund said.
The move followed a growing global trend to decriminalise and legalise the recreational use of cannabis, which had led to sharemarket listings of companies involved in the industry, it said.
Under the Guardians' Responsible Investment Framework, decisions about ethical exclusions took account of New Zealand law and international conventions to which New Zealand is a signatory.
Recreational use of cannabis is currently illegal in New Zealand under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975, and contrary to New Zealand's commitments to international drug conventions.
Companies would therefore be excluded from the NZ Super Fund if they were involved in the manufacturing and cultivation of cannabis for recreational use.
They would also be excluded if their main business was to supply recreational cannabis to the public or to other companies (for example wholesalers, retailers or dispensaries); or provide support services for the recreational use of cannabis, the fund said.
The move is a precautionary one, as the NZ Super Fund does not currently hold any of the companies identified for exclusion.
The NZ Super Fund, recently named one of the world's leading responsible investors by Bretton Woods II, received an A+ for responsible investment strategy and governance in a UNPRI benchmarking assessment earlier this year.
Currently, the majority of publicly listed companies involved in the recreational cannabis industry were small in size, but further growth and the inclusion of the companies in market indices was anticipated.
"We will continue to monitor the sector."
Exclusions were just one part of the fund's responsible investment strategy, which focused on the integration of environmental, social and governance risks into investment practices and the implementation of engagement and active ownership practices.
The NZ Super Fund also excludes companies involved in:
• manufacture of cluster munitions
• manufacture or testing of nuclear explosive devices (NEDs)
• manufacture of anti-personnel mines
• manufacture of tobacco
• processing of whale meat.