New Zealand officials appear to be blazing a trail for marijuana legalization and plan to let voters decide during the 2020 election. New Zealand’s newly-elected Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, is ready to open the discussions to regulate marijuana like alcohol and cigarettes — allowing personal, adult use for anyone of legal age.
Even the Politicians Agree
United States politicians could take a lesson from the three political parties in New Zealand. The Green Party, the Labour Party, and NZ First have joined forces to request a public referendum on legalizing marijuana before the 2020 election to push the initiative forward. The Green Party manifesto on marijuana states cannabis should be legal for personal possession and growing and introduces a possible legal age limit and removal of punishments for those cultivating medical cannabis.
Ross Bell, Executive Director at New Zealand Drug Foundation, stated public polls show 65% of New Zealand citizens are in favor of legalizing marijuana. He was encouraged by the engagement of all political parties to pursue the referendum. Bell believes conversations on marijuana reform are long overdue. Speaking to Reuters during a telephone interview, he said, “Anything that helps shift New Zealand drug laws out of the dinosaur age is going to be a good thing.”
During a special meeting on October 19th, Green Party representative, James Shaw, stated prohibition has not been effective at controlling the plant and has facilitated gang involvement.
“The prohibition model hasn’t worked, plus it puts the entire trade into the hands of gangs,” Shaw explained. “If you had a regulated market, the same way we do with alcohol and tobacco, you can control the price, advertising, point of sale, quality, and run full public health education campaigns.”
CBD Medicine by Prescription
Perhaps most fascinating is how quickly New Zealand seems to be moving forward under this new leadership. Just a few months ago, in June of this year, Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne announced the Ministry of Health was relaxing the prescription laws on cannabidiol (CBD). Rather than needing direct approval from the Ministry, doctors can now prescribe CBD without the previously required approvals.
Although no date has been set to hold the public referendum, New Zealand is clearly making strides towards safe, responsible cannabis access.