When voting age New Zealanders were asked in July 2017 if they supported “Growing and/or using cannabis for medical reasons if you have a terminal illness”, 60% responded that it should be legal, 22% supported decriminalisation, while 15% responded it should be illegal.
Cannabis production and use is currently controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill that was approved in December 2018 and allows companies to manufacture medical cannabis products for domestic and international markets. The bill also makes cannabidiol (CBD) as a prescription medicine. Rules to regulate licensing process to be established within 12 months.
The expansion allows patients to “procure, possess, consume, smoke or otherwise use any plant or plant material of the genus cannabis or any cannabis preparation,” according to the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill.
Health Minister Dr. David Clark said that will open the door to medical cannabis use for about 25,000 New Zealanders. It is required to have a certificate from a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner to use medical cannabis.
Cannabis is the most widely used illegal drug and it is the fourth-most widely used recreational drug in New Zealand, after alcohol, tobacco and caffeine. New Zealand has more than four million population and about 13% of those aged 16–64 use cannabis. This ranks as the ninth-highest cannabis consumption level in the world.
The New Zealand cannabis referendum on the question of whether to legalise the personal use of cannabis will be held alongside the general election in 2020.
New Zealand would be the first Group of Twenty nation in Oceania – and the second in the region – to legalize cannabis, opening the door to a cannabis market valued at $634 million, according to a report from United Kingdom-based analytics firm Prohibition Partners.