Marijuana in New Zealand
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CURRENT REGULATORY STATUS OF MARIJUANA IN NEW ZEALAND
On October 17th 2020, the citizens of New Zealand went to the polls to vote on a national referendum on whether to legalize the use of cannabis for people age 20 years and older. The voters were asked to vote either “Yes” or “No” on the question of whether they support the proposed Cannabis Legalization and Control Bill.
If passed, marijuana in New Zealand would be regulated by the Cannabis Regulatory Authority. The Authority would be responsible for licensing and monitoring the recreational use of cannabis, setting the THC limits, administering and collecting all applicable taxes and fees, and capping the total amount of cannabis allowed in the New Zealand market.
The proposed bill allowed for the growth, possession, and consumption of up to 14 grams of dried cannabis. The proposed bill outlined that 14 grams of dried cannabis is equivalent to:
- 14 cannabis seeds
- 70 grams of fresh cannabis
- 210 grams of cannabis edibles
- 980 grams of cannabis liquids
- 3.5 grams of concentrates
The Authority would be responsible for issuing licenses to grow, produce, and sell marijuana in New Zealand. All applicants would need to meet the following elements in order to obtain a cannabis license:
- Prove that the person or entity is capable of complying with the licensing conditions and financial requirements.
- Have no disqualifying conditions such as revocation of a previous license or bankruptcy status.
- Have no serious convictions.
- Any other facts or convictions regarding the person’s suitability to hold a license.
- Pass a police background check
The bill also proposed that cannabis may be consumed in private residences and in licensed cannabis consumption premises. Consumption would not be permitted in a public place.
The Authority would determine where cannabis dispensaries can be located. These decisions would be made on a case-by-case basis.
Communities will have a say in the placement of dispensaries in their neighborhoods and how close dispensaries can be located to schools, churches, parks, and other community properties. They would also be permitted to make a public submission on all dispensary license applications.
Retail and consumption license holders would be required to train all of their employees, display information regarding impairment by cannabis consumption, and refrain from exceeding the purchase limit.
Under the 2020 proposal, a cap would be placed to limit the amount of cannabis available for sale at any given time. Each licensed business would have to apply for a portion of the cap, and no license holder would be allowed more than 20% of the market cap.
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.
Also, licensed businesses that grow cannabis would not be able to operate on-premises where cannabis is sold or consumed.
Update: Unfortunately, New Zealand has voted “No” on the 2020 referendum for legalizing cannabis. Although not all hope is lost that one day New Zealand will legalize cannabis as the votes were close this time around, 48.4% voted for legalizing cannabis and 50.7% voted against legalizing cannabis.
So why did New Zealand fail this time around? There are many ideas circulating around why New Zealand failed to legalize, but they all point back to one thing and that is that the people of New Zealand were not ready for non-medical cannabis to legalize especially many people that had a more conservative political outlook or lived in more rural areas. There is still a stigma surrounding this emerging industry that can only be undone through education.
Last updated: August 2022