By Emily Ledger
The New Zealand government has vowed to hold a referendum on the legality of Cannabis alongside the 2020 General Election. A bill was introduced to Parliament, today (29th July), which aims to safeguard the referendum process.
The Referendums Framework bill, which has been submitted as part of the government’s confidence and supply agreement with the Green Party, focuses on the technical aspects of holding a referendum with the General Election, next year.
Outlined in the bill, are referendum advertising guidelines. Justice Minister Andrew Little, said: “It is important that these rules provide a balance between freedom of expression and transparency, so that voters know who is behind any advertising campaign”.
It is hoped that the bill will encourage the same rules, as far as practicable, for the Cannabis referendum and the General Election.
The Government has designed this bill to be suited to any referendum that may be held in the future. An example of which, ACT leader David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill, will potentially also be held next year.
New Zealand Justice Minister, Andrew Little, claimed:
“This provides greater clarity for the public and the Electoral Commission in 2020, by ensuring that the same framework and rules will apply.”
The decision to hold a vote was made last year, due to the government’s confidence and supply agreement with the Green Party.
Green Party’s MP Chloe Swarbrick, claimed that the vote represented “the greatest opportunity for cannabis law reform our country has seen in 40 years.”
It is estimated that 80% of adults in New Zealand have tried Cannabis, and 10% of adults are regular users.
As well as implementing Cannabis legalisation, the draft legislation may also allow limited home-growing and private cultivation options.
In December 2018, New Zealand lawmakers passed legislation which made medical marijuana available. Alongside this, a statutory defense was created to prevent terminally ill people, caught using Cannabis, from being prosecuted.