The upcoming October cannabis referendum
With cannabis once again in the spotlight, there are many questions. Less than two months from now on 17 October, recreational cannabis will be on the ballot. New Zealand will become the first country to place the question legal recreational cannabis in the hands of citizens.
But when we think about recreational cannabis, we mostly think about the marijuana leaf. There’s also a different cannabis market, however – concentrates like CBD oil. In this post, we’ll look into whether CBD oil and other concentrates are legal in New Zealand; and if they are not, then when.
Cannabis concentrates and/or oils: CBD vs THC
CBD (Cannabidiol) is one of over 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. The compound is known for its medicinal properties and has no psychoactive effects on users, making it more acceptable to the medical community.
THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), also one of the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, is responsible for the psychoactive effects that cause the “high” recreational users seek. THC has medicinal properties as well, but its euphoric effects are a major factor for why marijuana remains a controversial drug that is illegal in the majority of the world.
Both compounds can be extracted from the cannabis plant, separating them to create concentrates. These are usually oils that serve different uses, mostly medicinal. However, CBD oils typically have traces of THC, as extracting compounds isn’t an absolute art. As a result, countries that tackle the question of legalisation usually regulate CBD oils based on the percentage of THC in the product to determine its legality.
Is CBD oil legal in New Zealand?
CBD oil is already legal in New Zealand, but only for medical use. In reality, it has been legal since 2017, but concrete policy on the substance just went into effect in April of this year.
To obtain CBD, you will need a prescription from a doctor, after which you can purchase the substance from your local pharmacy.
While you could import CBD previously, changes that went into effect in April have made that illegal. Now, your CBD must be sourced locally, and this heightens the quality control efforts. However, you can bring CBD while traveling into the country if:
- Your present your prescription letter from your doctor, which should state that the CBD is your treatment
- Your passenger arrival card declares you have CBD oil in your possession
- You do not repackage the CBD oil, but carry it in its original container
These rules now apply to all medical cannabis products as of April of this year, including THC oils, marijuana leafs, and so on.
What about CBD oil for recreational use?
All cannabis products are currently illegal for recreational use in New Zealand, and that includes CBD. However, the upcoming recreational cannabis referendum, to be held on 17 October, might eventually change that if the majority (51% or more) vote Yes to the Cannabis Legislation and Control Bill.
However, even if New Zealanders vote Yes for the cannabis bill, and it goes through parliamentary procedures and eventually becomes law, concentrates will not become legal immediately – at least per the current version of the bill.
The Cannabis Legislation and Control Bill has a lot of restrictions, and cannabis concentrates fall into that category one of them. Therefore, CBD oil will not be legal for recreational purposes if the current bill becomes law.
What the bill will allow, is for those aged 20 and above to:
- Purchase 14 grams or less of cannabis per day from establishments that are licensed to sell
- Grow up to 4 cannabis plants per household
- Consume cannabis on private property or areas that are licensed for cannabis consumption
- Share up to 14 grams of cannabis with others who are 20 years or over.
The cannabis products that the bill legalises are flowers, plants, and seeds in the initial phase, only if they contain no more than 15% of THC. Later, though, concentrates and edibles might become legal, but only after fulfilling additional requirements.
The long-awaited cannabis referendum is now less than two months away. Polls have tried to gauge how Kiwis will vote, but there is no indication of a landslide on either side. While the majority in 2018 said they support legalising cannabis, tide turned over the past year with the majority saying they would vote No in the upcoming referendum. However, a recent 1 News Colmar Brunton poll now have a slight majority saying they will vote Yes.
At this point, the only way to effect a change in current laws is to go out there and vote. New Zealand is making history by becoming the first country to give you the right to determine how cannabis is reformed – or if cannabis is reformed. Become a part of history by voting Yes, freeing up police resources to focus on actual crimes, and attracting much needed tax revenue for the country.