This summary has been designed to give you a detailed overview of the Bill. Find out what the proposed law says about buying and selling cannabis, what sorts of products could be legal, what taxes could apply, and more.
This information is factual and impartial - and is based as closely as possible on the wording used in the Bill.
The Bill sets out a way for the Government to control and regulate cannabis. It proposes rules for growing, selling, buying, and consuming cannabis.
The Bill's main purpose is to reduce cannabis-related harm to individuals, families/whānau and communities.
The Bill would do this by:
A person aged 20 or over would be able to:
A person aged 20 or over would be able to grow 2 cannabis plants. The maximum number of plants per household is 4. Plants would need to be grown at home and out of sight, or not be accessible from public areas.
A person aged 20 or over would be able to possess up to 14 grams of dried cannabis (or its equivalent) in public.
The Bill would establish that 14 grams of dried cannabis is equal to:
A person under age 20 found in possession of cannabis would receive a health-based response such as an education session, social or health service, or they would pay a small fee or fine. This would not lead to a conviction.
Products would be labelled with information to support buying decisions, including health warnings and how the product compares to the daily purchase limit.
Good-practice guidelines, health promotion, awareness and education would support people to consume, grow and store cannabis safely.
Under the Bill, all aspects of the supply chain for cannabis would be regulated.
An assessment would apply to all licence applicants, directors, and people overseeing cannabis operations under an authorisation. This assessment would consider their ability to comply with requirements, disqualifying factors, and any other factors which influence the person's suitability. Police vetting would be included in this process. Some less serious previous convictions will not, on their own, disqualify the person.
A cap would limit the amount of cannabis available for sale in the licensed market. Licensed businesses would apply for a portion of the cap. The Authority would be able to adjust the cap each year as required. No licence holder would be able to hold more than 20% of the cap.
The Bill includes 3 guiding principles, which the Authority would apply when deciding which businesses would be given a portion of the cap. The Authority would consider the degree to which the licence applicant:
The cap could change over time and affect the amount of cannabis businesses would be able to supply to the market.
Part of the cap would be set aside for micro-cultivators (licensed businesses growing on a small scale).
Businesses allowed to grow cannabis would not be able to operate premises where cannabis is sold or consumed.
Potency (strength) limits and quality standards would be set for cannabis and cannabis products, and businesses would need to comply.
Cannabis products would have to go through an approval process before being released to the market. Higher risk products would have to go through a stricter process.
Products deemed to appeal to children or young people would not be approved.
A person must be aged 20 or over to enter, or work at, premises where cannabis is sold or consumed.
However, a person under 20 could be employed by a licensed cannabis grower or processor.
Minimum and maximum trading hours would be set for premises where cannabis is sold or consumed.
Local authorities would have power to restrict hours, within the minimum and maximum limits.
There would be restrictions on the appearance of premises. These would include rules against promoting the fact that cannabis is available for purchase inside.
People operating retail and consumption premises would need to:
People selling cannabis products would be responsible for ensuring the purchase limit is not exceeded.
Retailers would be banned from making false, misleading, or therapeutic claims, or displaying these claims within consumption premises.
Licensed cannabis products would become legal in stages, starting with dried cannabis, fresh cannabis, cannabis plants, and cannabis seeds.
The Authority would have the power to authorise the introduction of other licensed products for sale, including concentrates and cannabis edibles, through regulations.
A number of licensed products would be prohibited, including:
People would be prohibited from feeding cannabis or cannabis products to animals.
Cannabis edibles are cannabis products that are consumed in the same manner as food. They would be required to be solid at room temperature.
More specific requirements for cannabis edibles would include:
Some things would be illegal, including:
Cannabis retailers would only be able to sell cannabis, cannabis products, and cannabis accessories. Cannabis retailers would not be able to sell alcohol or tobacco, or conventional food.
Cannabis accessories would only be available through licensed cannabis retailers, with the exception of pharmacies selling accessories for medicinal cannabis under existing legislation.
Potency limits would exist for all licensed products to limit levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol - the main psychoactive compound in cannabis).
In setting potency limits, the Authority would take into account:
To help consumers make informed decisions, product labels would show:
Retailers would not be able to sell cannabis or cannabis products at a reduced price, or give these away for free.
Advertising, promoting, and sponsoring cannabis products and cannabis businesses would be banned. However, businesses would be able to label products with their company name.
The Authority would develop packaging requirements that discourage cannabis consumption, such as plain packaging and health warnings.
Packaging could not be targeted towards children and young people in any way.
The primary objective for consumption premises would be to provide lawful places to consume cannabis outside the home.
Consumption premises would have to:
Consumption premises would fall into 2 models:
Consumption premises would be required to provide conventional food and drink. They would not be able to sell alcohol or tobacco. Smoking or vaping cannabis indoors at consumption premises would be prohibited.
Communities would be able to have their say on policies on licensed premises in their local area, and make submissions on licensing applications, noting the final decision rests with the Authority.
An excise tax would apply and be collected when a product is packaged and labelled for retail sale.
This tax would be based on weight and potency. A higher rate would apply for more potent cannabis.
A levy, similar to that applied to alcohol and gambling, would fund services to reduce cannabis harm, as set out in a public health, drug education and treatment services strategy.
A licensing fee would recover the costs associated with administering and monitoring the licensing regime.
The cannabis market would be overseen by the Cannabis Regulatory Authority [holding name only] to ensure the rules are followed and cannabis-related harm is reduced.
The Authority would oversee the regulation of the cannabis market in a way that:
The Authority would:
The Authority would also have a role in promoting health-focused, compliant behaviour by:
The Cannabis Advisory Committee would be created to advise the Authority on:
Membership of the Committee would include representation of:
The law would be reviewed after 5 years of operating as a licensed regime.
The cannabis legalisation and control referendum will give you the opportunity to vote on whether you support the proposed Bill.
The referendum question is:
Do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill?
You can choose 1 of these 2 answers:
Note that medicinal cannabis and industrial hemp are not included in the proposed Bill that will be voted on in the referendum. Information about the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme and industrial hemp can be found at health.govt.nz.
If more than 50% of people vote 'Yes' in the referendum, recreational use of cannabis wouldn't become legal straight away. After the election, the incoming Government can introduce a Bill to Parliament that would make the use of cannabis legal. This process would include the opportunity for the public to share their thoughts and ideas on how the law might work.
If more than 50% of people vote 'No' in the referendum, recreational use of cannabis would remain illegal, as is the current law.
Medicinal cannabis and hemp will not be affected by the outcome of the referendum. Medicinal use of cannabis will still be allowed if prescribed by a doctor, and industrial hemp will still be legal.
You can download and read the Bill in full. You can also read frequently asked questions about the cannabis legalisation and control referendum, or download the 'Guide to the Bill', a technical summary document that provides more detail on the contents of the proposed Bill.