Advocates of cannabis legalization were contemplating New Zealand to join in the ranks with Canada and Uruguay by sanctioning the sale, cultivation and recreational use of cannabis. Although the proposed legislative changes were expected to attract a lot of public interest but contrary to this belief, proponents of the idea have declined in the past few months.
In a survey of about 1000 people conducted by 1 News Colmar Brunton poll, the percentage of people supporting the proposed laws has fallen to 35%. This number stood at 40% in June, and 43% in November of 2019. As opposed to this, the proportion of those against the legalization of cannabis has increased to 53% .
In addition to this, Horizon Research has found a head to head competition on the legalization verdict by conducting a nationwide survey on the matter. According to its findings, about 49.5% respondents voted in favor of cannabis legalization, and an exactly similar aggregate voted against it. The remaining 1% gave no response.
One of the main reasons for a decline of public interest on the issue of cannabis legalization is the COVID-19 pandemic. Ever since its attack on the world, the virus has become the most discussed topic among all governments, New Zealand being no exception. The pandemic has not only inhibited campaigns for popularizing cannabis, but due the gravity of its impact, most elections have focused on managing the crises at hand.
Therefore, many in the government have chosen to avoid sharing their views on the subject.
Cannabis Legalization in New Zealand
Alongside the general election of 2020, voters in New Zealand will be handed two referendums asking for a simple “yes” or “no” vote on cannabis legalization. This referendum will also be accompanied by another one which will be focusing on euthanasia. New Zealand is going to be the first country to put up the matter for a public verdict. This has taken away some of the enthusiasm of voters from the issue of cannabis legalization. Voters will be free to vote on both or either of the referendums, or not vote at all.
For the cannabis referendum, the question asked from the voters is quite straight forward. It is worded as neutrally as possible to provide voters a complete understanding of the proposal at hand.
“Do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalization and Control Bill?”
If the referendum wins by more than 50% votes, it will be presented before the new government in the parliament. Therefore, keeping in mind all the phases which the referendum will pass through, actual legalization cannot take place before 2021. This will also depend upon the percentage of support it gets on the referendum.
What is in the bill?
In a nutshell, the legalization would do the following for the cannabis industry of New Zealand:
- Make the use, purchase and exchange of cannabis legal for adults 20 years and older
- Allow the use of 14 grams of dried cannabis or its equivalent per day
- Permit the consumption and purchase of cannabis from licensed premises
- Allow cultivation of up to two plants, with a maximum of four plants per household
- Share up to 14 grams of dried cannabis (or its equivalent) with another person aged 20 or over
The restrictions on the cannabis industry will be stronger than those on tobacco and alcohol. Some of them are as follows:
- Like USA, no advertising of cannabis products will be allowed
- The products will be allowed to be only used at home
- Only licensed premises can permit on location consumption of cannabis products
- A regulatory body will be formed that would decide the location of retail outlets and consumption premises on a case by case basis
What will legalization mean for New Zealand?
Cannabis and its derivatives are considered illegal in New Zealand. This classification has lead to a conviction of about 45,665 individuals in the past decade, with about 6583 imprisonments.
“A ‘yes’ vote in the 2020 referendum will be positive for social justice and equity, contribute to reducing the country’s excessively large prison population, and enable those health issues associated with cannabis to be dealt with upfront,” says former Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark
Cannabis activists calling for reform say a lot of these statistics could change with the legalization of the drug. Not only will this free police resources, but will also leave more funds to be invested into other socially important causes like healthcare, education and infrastructure.
This industry could generate about $NZ1.4bn each year, according to reports by BERL. The agency predicted an influx of 400 cannabis stores and about 5000 jobs in the market.
Moreover, legalization would also address racial discriminations in arrests and police behavior. According to statistics, about 41% of cannabis offences were ‘recorded’ in Māori in the last 5 years. Most of the convicts were of a non-Māori origin.
The bill has had its fair share of opposition from politicians. According to Aaron Ironside from Smart Approaches to Marijuana NZ, opposing cannabis legalization was to protect the health of users. “The taxes and excises on alcohol have not been sufficient to cover the social harms of alcohol. We need to focus on the health … let’s not create more addicts to do that.”
Despite of a shift in the focus of voters in this year’s elections, the issue of cannabis legalization will likely rise again.
Why are there age restrictions on CBD products?
Whether its for toys, movies or alcohol, the end goal for regulations on every product category is the same – safeguarding consumers from potential harm. The same holds true for the marijuana industry as well where age restrictions and other directives are imposed on all cannabis off-shoots, including CBD for consumer welfare.
Although some might find the age restrictions on CBD products as being too conservative, but it is a fact that the marijuana industry is still in its infancy. This means that researches revealing the true impact of the drug on the mind and body, whether positive or negative, are very limited.
Unfortunately, a majority of what researchers have strived to know to this day are very recent developments. These can be proved inaccurate at any point in time by further researches, setting new paradigms for analysts. Federal prohibition of the drug has wasted about 80 years of knowledge that could have been fruitful today and helped in a better understanding of its behavior.
Therefore, age restrictions on CBD and other cannabis derivatives are deemed necessary to stop any possible negative impacts from affecting individuals, specially the youth. According to many studies, the negative impacts of drugs or alcohol are amplified exposure is at a younger age.
Why is the Marijuana industry moderated with age restrictions?
Looking at the behavior of other industries like tobacco and alcohol, the legal age for consuming their products is 21+. Surely, this benchmark is not a random selection and has a scientific explanation behind it.
The age limit of 21 years is applied because below this age, these substances can interfere with the brain development of young adults. This can negatively impacting their cognitive responses and capability of emotional regulation. The repercussions can be serious for the individual as well as anyone who comes into contact with them.
From cases of driving under the influence to a decline in workplace productivity, exposure to marijuana and it’s derivatives at an early age can be damaging to individuals as well as society as a whole.
Are all derivatives of cannabis equally addictive?
Hemp Vs Marijuana
Both hemp and marijuana are offshoots of the cannabis strain of plants and are a rich source of CBD. Their major difference is their THC content.
THC is a compound that is primarily responsible for the psychoactive effects associated with marijuana. It causes users to feel high when consumed.
While CBD is free from psychoactive effects, some products might carry trace amounts of THC in them. Hemp derived CBD contains less than 0.3% of THC, and that derived from marijuana contains a higher concentration of THC. Due to its lower THC concentration, hemp derived CBD was removed from the Schedule 1 classification. Later it was legalized in all 50 states.
However, in an attempt to give users the ‘entourage effect’ a lot of CBD products contain THC. A study conducted in 2010 found that a combination of THC and CBD was more effective in relieving symptoms of cancer patients than a THC and placebo combination.
When consuming products that contain a higher level of THC, users can possibly experience withdrawal symptoms in cases of overuse. Even though many researches have proven that overdosing on CBD is an impossibility, but addiction, cognition difficulties and dependence that come with other ingredients used in it are also factual realities.
Is CBD completely safe?
Despite of its low potential of addiction and abuse, CBD is not a completely side-effect free product.
Minor side-effects like drowsiness, fatigue, and dry mouth have been reported. In addition to this, the possibility of drug interactions with CBD can become a huge health risk.
According to a study conducted in 1993, CBD blocked an enzyme that was responsible for eliminating drugs from the system. This could result in a toxic buildup of pharmaceutical chemicals in the body, leading to serious consequences.
Are age restrictions on CBD justified?
Considering the possibility of side-effects that may result with using CBD products, age restrictions are quite rightly justified.
Most teenager are itching to explore their newfound freedom and might end up getting themselves in harms way. The legal age of 21 assures that individuals are past the excitement phase and will make sensible decisions.
In addition, age restrictions also assure that the mental development of individuals is not affected with an early exposure.
Cannabis legalization question on the 2020 ballots: Which states will legalize it?
The wait for the 2020 elections is almost over with early voting sessions already underway in various states. Although issues like the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, countrywide protests against racial injustice, and the future of Affordable Care Act were the top most highlighted issues during the election campaigns, advocates of marijuana legalization have strived really hard to get their voices heard amidst all the chaos. In an attempt to get public opinion on their stance and validate the status of marijuana, these proponents have managed to get the question of its legalization on the ballot of at least 6 more states in the 2020 elections.
Here is a brief round up of the legalization efforts and ballot initiatives put forward in these states.
This is not the first time that Arizona is going to put up the cannabis legalization initiative on its election ballots. In 2016, the legalization initiative was defeated by a mere 2.6% majority of the opponents.
This year, Arizona has placed the cannabis legalization question before its residents yet again in the form of Proposition 207. If it wins, the initiative will allow the possession, cultivation and use of marijuana to adults aged 21 and older. In addition to this, a provision to expunge past offences related marijuana has also been made.
In Mississippi, residents would be voting on two different and competing initiatives related to marijuana legalization.
While Initiative 65 has proposed access to medical marijuana for 22 types of qualifying conditions, Initiative 65A has limited the consumption of smokable marijuana only to the terminally ill.
Further more, Initiative 65A has also stressed on the pharmaceutical grade of medical marijuana. The right of amending any regulation are placed with the legislature under this initiative.
Medical marijuana is already legal in Montana. This year, the question of legalization is on the ballots yet again to take the process a little further.
One initiative would allow adults 21 years or older to purchase, own and consume cannabis recreationally. In addition, it has proposed a tax of 20% on sales that will be directed to national parks and wildlife.
The other initiative establishes the legal age of consumption, possession and purchase of cannabis at 21. What’s different in this initiative is that it does not position itself to establish an industry within the state.
In New Jersey, the legalization question will be put forward in the form of Public Question No.1.
Public verdict on the issue is very important in this state as it will have almost immediate impact on neighboring states of New York and Pennsylvania. Upon success, the proposition would legalize cultivation, retail, processing and recreational use of cannabis for adults 21 or older.
The commission already overseeing medical cannabis business of the state will be manage the initiative upon success.
South Dakota has broken previous norms set by other states in their legalization efforts. This is because the state is putting forward the question of legalizing both medical and recreational marijuana in one swift move under Measure 26.
Measure 26 aims to provide legal medical marijuana access to patients with qualifying conditions. It will put a registration system and medical cannabis program into effect if it gets enough voter support.
Additionally, another marijuana initiative called Constitutional Amendment A is also on the ballots.
Oregon has already legalized marijuana use in its jurisdiction. In the elections of 2020, the state will take voter opinion on Measure 109. This is the Oregon Psilocybin Program initiative that would allow the access of psilocybin to qualifying individuals over 21.
In addition to this, the state is also putting forward Drug Addiction and Treatment Recovery initiative that would expunge all criminal penalties related to Schedule I, II, III, or IV drugs.
Why more States need to legalize marijuana
Although 35 states have already legalized medical marijuana and 11 others, along with Washington DC have permitted its commercial adult use, the immense confusion due to different state policies and their contradictions with the federal law demand more to be done.
A classic example of this was seen in the case of Chris Bartkowicz , a licensed marijuana grower in Colorado. Despite of its legal status there, the cultivator was arrested. “He was in violation of federal laws and he had the intent to distribute marijuana.”
In his defense Bartkowicz said, “If I knew what I was doing was illegal, I would have never made a public display of myself. I would not have put myself in the line of fire if I was knowingly violating the law.”
There are undeniable legal disagreements even between different states that have granted marijuana a lawful status. Due to these discrepancies, marijuana users are unable to carry their products/medications across state lines. In some states where marijuana is legal, consuming the drug on federal property could lead to some serious charges by authorities.
In addition to this, current laws surrounding marijuana have fueled racial disparities in the country. Since the beginning of its ban, marijuana has been tout with xenophobia. Its therapeutic qualities were scarred in an attempt to tarnish Mexican immigrants, who were active users of marihuana. According to statistics, people people belonging to the African American descent make up only 34% of the American population, yet they makeup for about 13% overall arrests.
Massachusetts Loosens Restrictions On Marijuana
The state of Massachusetts has set a wonderful example for the rest of the country in marijuana legalization. While the rest of America is debating on whether cannabis should be legalized, this state really pushed the envelope. The state announced the results of a vote to remove a few key restrictions on cannabis went through, signally things are looking brighter for cannabis laws. Amongst other announcements, cannabis can now be legally delivered to resident’s doorsteps.
Nationwide, the scope of influence of this decision remains to be seen. Still, a win is a win. Cannabis laws becoming more lenient is definitely good for the average consumer, no matter where. Follow us as we read through the changes expected to be made below.
The laws will be inclusive of all entrepreneurs where others haven’t been in the loop before
Alongside the momentous decision came a welcome surprise for many investors. The new system came from a council with a legal mandate to ensure equal opportunities for all. And that promise has been kept, it seems. The new system proposed will make fair allowances for black and brown businesspeople.
In the US, cannabis production and distribution require a license to do each of these activities. Due to various socio-economic factors, very few of those permits ever made it to the hands of black and brown businessmen. And that means that the folks running the whole cannabis scene are, well, monochromatic. Now, however, that’s all to change, with laws passed to grant permits to budding producers and distributors of color. And boy, is it a welcome sight.
The proposed system involves two new permits
That’s right. The new permits would basically be licenses to transport cannabis for commercial distribution and handle them. Officially, this is basically what the council has proposed. And it is definitely a step forward. Having workers carry licenses means they can’t be racially profiled for transporting marijuana. They also can be thoroughly checked so that smuggling and illegal distribution could come to a standstill.
The “courier” license is available to companies already, granted to more than thirty seven companies in Massachusetts. This means that once logistics teams and support infrastructure is developed, producers can distribute much more freely than ever before. A second license, for working in cannabis distribution centers is already available too. This is key for economic growth in the state because it allows for more freedom in retailer variety. As an example, the same storehouse can be used by brands with in person, large shops open. On the side however, that warehouse could also be the base of several online marijuana retailers. This means there is much more diversity in the ways to buy and distribute the commodity than ever before.
Marijuana business are building trust in the government
The biggest reason that the council was able to dole out such generous concessions to companies was that they have earned trust. And we don’t mean plain old trust. Trust refers to a reputation for reliability and efficiency, which is worth more than gold to a company. For a business, it doesn’t matter how much you have in investment funds or stock value. The biggest factor in predicting whether a company is worth going the extra mile for or investing in is trust. You have to know that a company is capable of handling whatever you throw at them before you’re going to risk assets or political leverage doing them a
And regarding that, Massachusetts officials have nothing but praise to give local producers. This track record of positive rapport goes way further than any other factor in deciding how free our companies are to make better changes to society.
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