Reforming Cannabis Laws Is A Complex Challenge, But NZ’s Drug Reform History Holds Important LessonsPosted by On



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.

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.

Even the best law does not guarantee
compliance

The cannabis legislation bill sets out how
the government would control and regulate a legal cannabis
market, including the…

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