New Zealand may be one of the next countries to do away with the criminalization of cannabis after nearly half a century of prohibition. The newly-elected Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, who has been transparent in her disapproval for current marijuana law, has announced that she will be working with the new government and opening discussion on legalization before writing any potential laws regarding cannabis.
“During the campaign I’ve always been very vocal about the fact that I do not believe people should be imprisoned for the personal use of cannabis. On the flip-side, I also have concerns around young people accessing a product which can clearly do harm and damage to them,” Jacinda Ardern said.
The Green Party has been pushing for legalization of personal use, possession and cultivation of the herb, suggesting that there be an age limit for personal use as there is in a handful of states here in the U.S. They have also been pushing for the removal of penalties for anyone who is growing their own cannabis for medicinal uses.
Anything that gets written to replace current cannabis policy would be a referendum that would require a majority vote from New Zealanders in order to become law. This is not expected to happen right away, however – it is expected to take place within 3 years.
Chances are that allowing the public to decide will result in the legalization of cannabis in the country as recent polls regularly show support for changing current laws at 65 percent according to Ross Bell, Executive Director at New Zealand Drug Foundation.
“It is over 40-years-old and like many other countries, successive governments have not wanted to engage on this issue,” Bell told CNBC by telephone Friday. “Lo and behold the Green Party come along, and allows the country to have the sort of conversation we should have had for a long time.”
Chances are it will be a systematic and regulated market, much like the legal markets in U.S. states Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Nevada and soon Maine, Massachusetts and California as well. It would also likely be similar to the plan that Canada has to roll out a legal and regulated cannabis market throughout their country by 2018. While there is likely to be regulations in place, legalization seems likely for New Zealanders.