Reforming cannabis laws is a complex challenge, but New Zealand’s history of drug reform holds important lessons
In less than three months, New Zealanders will vote in the world’s first national referendum on a comprehensive proposal to legalise the recreational use of cannabis.5 Jul 2020
New Zealanders will vote in the world’s first national referendum on a comprehensive proposal to legalise the recreational use of cannabis.
Unlike cannabis ballots in several US states in which the public only voted on the general proposition of whether cannabis should be legalised or not, New Zealanders have access to the detailed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill. It outlines how the government proposes to establish a “controlled and tightly regulated” legal cannabis market.
The approach is not like the Brexit referendum, which had no detailed plan of action for a yes vote. Neither is it like New Zealand’s much maligned 2016 flag referendum, in which people knew exactly what they were voting for. In this case, New Zealanders are voting on a proposed law reform, but even following a yes vote, the cannabis regime will have to go through select committees and public consultation. And a legal cannabis market will require monitoring and enforcement.
Our research on an earlier law reform, aiming to regulate the manufacture of “low risk” psychoactive products, shows New Zealand has a history of ambitious ideas that ultimately suffer from poor execution.Share this on: