If the international market is anything to go by getting high off lollipops, gummy lollies, soft drinks and even protein powder could be an option following next year's cannabis referendum.

The Government yesterday announced the draft Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill, designed to govern the recreational cannabis market should it come into effect.

The legislation specifies a minimum age of 20 to use or purchase a recreational cannabis product, and prohibits consumption in public spaces, among many other measures.

But two aspects have raised more questions than others - the inclusion of edible products, and a 14g carry limit.

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In legal cannabis markets overseas cannabis edibles have gone well past the traditional brownies, to everything from protein powder, beer, and even THC-infused beef jerky.

Cannabis beer on display in Las Vegas. Photo / Getty
Cannabis beer on display in Las Vegas. Photo / Getty

But it is confectionery items like chocolates, lollipops, gummy lollies and soft drinks, that have raised the ire of Family First, with spokesman Bob McCoskrie saying such products could be targeted at children.

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Opposition lobby group Say Nope to Dope, of which Family First is a part, has run giant billboards throughout the year against the referendum, including a series featuring a deep green gummy bear smoking a joint.

Abe Gray of the Whakamana Cannabis Museum in Christchurch said it was important to include edibles in the legislation to give people an alternative to smoking or vaping.

The point of having legislation was to be able to regulate those products.

Initially in Colorado there were no regulations on edibles, but it soon became clear they were being targeted at children, and so they rejigged their legislation, Gray said.

"Having a regulated market allows you to change things that are not working."

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Cannabis protein powder at a store in Krakow, Poland. Photo / Getty
Cannabis protein powder at a store in Krakow, Poland. Photo / Getty

Gray said under the draft bill, cannabis products would be in plain packaging and not be able to be advertised.

They would be sold only to those aged over 20 in controlled environments, and have THC limits.

Legislation could also ensure the products were sold in childproof containers.

In some overseas markets things like gummy lollies were allowed, but they were not allowed to be made into shapes - such as animals. Savoury flavours were also methods to dissuade their attractiveness to children, Gray said.

The proposed bill had many blank spaces, which would allow the Government to ensure the right regulations were in place as the bill was debated before referendum, Gray said.

"Recreational cannabis is being misrepresented as this hedonistic, frivolous thing, but in reality most people would be using it as a wellness supplement for things not covered under the medicinal terminal requirement, things like anxiety."

Edible and drinkable cannabis products displayed at an expo in Las Vegas. Photo / Getty
Edible and drinkable cannabis products displayed at an expo in Las Vegas. Photo / Getty

Cannabis reform organisation NORML spokesman Chris Fowlie said they would support excluding edibles from the bill, if it meant the referendum passed.

"For us it becomes a big political question, with National and Family First framing it as 'evil gummy bears'.

"But it is important to give people alternatives to smoking, and if they are not included it risks people obtaining them illegally."

Other options were to introduce edibles in a staged approach, like Canada, to ensure the right regulations were in place, Fowlie said.

"The important thing would be to not make them in the form of candy, and with clear labelling and childproof containers.

"There could even be restrictions on how people stored them at home."

On the 14g limit, Fowlie said he thought it struck a good balance.

Most people would not be consuming that much, but for those who did it meant they would not need to access the black market.

The bill has the support of the Drug Foundation, with executive director Ross Bell calling it 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."

Cannabis lollipops, chewing gums and energy drinks for sale at a store in Krakow, Poland, where medicinal cannabis is legal. Photo / Getty
Cannabis lollipops, chewing gums and energy drinks for sale at a store in Krakow, Poland, where medicinal cannabis is legal. Photo / Getty

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

University of Otago Associate Professor Joe Boden said the bill was "very encouraging", particularly how it would prohibit teenage use, who were more vulnerable to cannabis-related harm.

"Furthermore, there will be a significant harm reduction by eliminating most criminal penalties around cannabis use.

"Overall, this is a positive step for New Zealand to treat cannabis use as a health issue, rather than an issue of criminal offending."

National's drug and alcohol spokeswoman Paula Bennett said she was concerned about youth still accessing cannabis.

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

In introducing the draft legislation, which will be open to submissions, Justice Minister Andrew Little said the primary objective was to "reduce overall cannabis use and limit the ability of young people to access cannabis".