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New Zealand Ministry of Justice

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Agency official

Andrew Little


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Andrew Little
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Andrew Little Jun 1st, 2019

A Government controlled and tightly regulated market, with the size of the market set at a level that is consistent with current demand for cannabis, achieves legalisation of personal use of recreational cannabis while at the same time allowing regulation and control of harmful aspects of the substance throughout the whole supply chain.  

Existing alcohol and tobacco regulatory models provide lessons for the regulation of cannabis as there are key similarities between the three substances. However, it should be noted that there are also important differences, such as their effects, the way they are used, and the Government’s response to use. 

Regulation of cannabis provides a unique opportunity to develop a new regulatory system aimed at carefully mitigating harm and shaping the social norms that will develop around recreational cannabis use. We have an opportunity to anticipate and mitigate the risks seen with tobacco and alcohol regulation in New Zealand.  

Legalising the personal use of recreational cannabis without legalising its commercial cultivation and production could lead to a situation similar to the Netherlands. Cannabis use in the Netherlands has been decriminalised and ‘coffee shop’ sales are tolerated but production is strictly forbidden, which has resulted in coffee shops be ng supplied via the illicit market. 

who can use and purchase cannabis; 

what forms of cannabis should be regulated; 

where cannabis can be used; 

the scope of the private sphere – what people can do in their own home; and 

the scope of the commercial sphere – what can be conducted commercially. 

Andrew Little May 31st, 2019

There will be a clear choice for New Zealanders in a referendum at the 2020 General Election. Cabinet has agreed there will be a simple Yes/No question on the basis of a draft piece of legislation.

That draft legislation will 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,

 • Stakeholder engagement.

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.

We hope and expect the National Party will also commit to respecting the voters’ decision.

I have today released the actual paper considered by Cabinet.


Wellington, New Zealand
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