The New Zealand Drug Foundation is welcoming the proposed new law which would regulate the use of cannabis, if it's made legal after next year's referendum.

But National said although the draft bill was well-intentioned it's not doing the job it needs to do.

The Government this afternoon outlined details of what they'll be voting for in next year's cannabis referendum.

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At the 2020 election, New Zealanders will be asked: "Do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill?"

The Government this afternoon unveiled what that Control Bill would look like.
The legislation specifies a minimum age of 20 to use or purchase a recreational cannabis product.

It prohibits the consumption of cannabis in public spaces, limiting use to private homes and licensed premises.

Individuals will be allowed to carry only 14g of dried cannabis – roughly the size, but not the weight of a grapefruit – in a public space.

Breaking this rule could lead to an infringement fee of $200 or a court-imposed fine of up to $500, according to the legislation.

The Drug Foundation's Executive Director Ross Bell was thrilled with the draft legislation saying it was a "wonderful thing.

"New Zealand voters want to know what they're actually voting on next year and the Government has really laid out really clearly the kind of rules, regulations and controls it's going to put in place."

If you were going to give it a public health tick – "this will tick all the boxes".


Speaking to media this afternoon, Justice Minister Andrew Little said the draft bill was a "major social policy shift".

"This provides information for people to make an informed choice and to have a constructive debate.

"We do want a well regulated, control-based approach to cannabis in New Zealand."

Asked about the 14g limit, he said that was roughly what a regular user consumes a week.

National's drug and alcohol spokeswoman Paula Bennett:
National's drug and alcohol spokeswoman Paula Bennett: "Young people are still going to try it, but they will be getting it from the black market." Photo / Mark Mitchell

He said there were roughly 250,000-300,000 people who regally use cannabis in New Zealand.

On the 20-year limit, Little said it would help push out first use and prevent young people from using it.

Bell agreed and sends a really clear signal to young New Zealanders that cannabis is for adults only.

But National's drug and alcohol spokeswoman Paula Bennett disagrees.

"Young people are still going to try it, but they will be getting it from the black market."

She also had a number of questions that the draft bill does not answer, such as how much tax would be raised.

"It's well-intentioned, but it's not doing the job it needs to do."

Little said the amount of tax that would be raised if cannabis is made legal, but he did confirm it would subject to the same excise tax as tobacco, Little confirmed.

But Ross said based on recent studies, the bill would raise roughly $250 million.

The bill means sales would be strictly limited to physical stores, meaning that online sales will not be permitted and any cannabis products sold will also be required to carry messages warning of the harm likely to be caused through the use of the product.

Little also revealed that the Government would not allow venues that sell alcohol to also sell cannabis.