New Zealand officials have now agreed on basic elements of the 2020 cannabis legalization referendum and are ready to move forward with developing the proposed legislation.
"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," said Justice Minister Andrew Little in a press release. "The voters' choice will be binding because all of the parties that make up the current Government have committed to abide by the outcome."
While the full referendum language has yet to be drafted, we do have some indication of what the proposed law would look like. First, the referendum would allow adults age 20 or older to purchase, possess and consume cannabis. Additionally, a "controlled and tightly regulated market" for cannabis cultivation and retail will be established.
Green Party Member of Parliament Chlöe Swarbrick suggests that New Zealand will also allow for social consumption spaces, and that public consumption will be banned. So tourists will likely be able to visit an Amsterdam-style café, but they won't be allowed to smoke a joint on the streets.
"In line with a health-based approach, consumption will be limited to private spaces or to those that are licensed," Swarbrick said. "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."
Other key topics, such as tax rates, possession limits, potential caps on the amount of THC (cannabis' intoxicating compound) or reparations for past cannabis convictions are not yet known. However, the finalized referendum language is set to be released in June.
The referendum will go up for vote during New Zealand's General Election in November 2020. If passed, New Zealand would become the third country to legalize adult use cannabis on a national scale following Uruguay and Canada. And it stands a decent chance of passing given that support for cannabis legalization in the Kiwi nation is more than 75 percent.
This could all mean that the country already well known for their lush greenery and stunning landscapes is on track to become a little bit greener come 2020.
h/t Marijuana Moment