Is it legal to become a cannabis producer in your back yard?
The short answer is no – or at least, not yet. But you can use cannabis for medical purposes, under certain strict provisions.
Recreational cannabis use remains illegal in New Zealand, but recently the government legalised the drug for medicinal use. However, despite its legal status, cannabis is one of the most frequently used illegal drugs in the country.
According to Global Drug Survey 2017, more than two thirds of New Zealanders used at least one illegal drug in their lifetime, and more than one third of New Zealanders used cannabis in the past year.
Despite its extensive use, cannabis remains very much illegal in New Zealand. It is illegal to grow any amount of cannabis for personal or medical use. Cultivating, sowing or planting cannabis can attract penalties of up to seven years in jail as well as other fines.
Last year, the New Zealand government legalised medical cannabis for thousands of terminally ill patients. The new law is also paving the way for New Zealand firms to manufacture medicinal cannabis for local as well as international markets. However, growing your own cannabis is strictly prohibited in the country.
In Australia, growing your own cannabis at home is legal only for medicinal purposes. Federal legislation in Australia allows people and large manufacturing organisations to obtain a licence to cultivate medicinal cannabis with the Commonwealth Government’s Office of Drug Control. They must pass a “fit and proper person test” and prove that their cannabis growing site is secure.
In the U.S., there is no single regulatory system that exists for controlling cannabis. For instance, in Colorado, adult residents can grow up to six plants at home, with a maximum of three in the flowering stage at any time. One residence cannot grow more than 12 plants. All plants must be grown, cultivated, and stored securely in an enclosed area, which should be accessible to adults only.
In Washington, medicinal cannabis consumers can grow up to 15 plants. To be eligible for growing their own recreational cannabis, Washington residents must hold a legally licensed producer permit and a growing site that meets the standards set by the Liquor Control Board regulations.
New Zealanders favour legalisation
A recent online survey revealed that nearly three quarters of participants had used cannabis in the last six months. The New Zealand Drug Trends Survey was completed by over 6300 people. They were asked to choose one of 10 options they favoured for managing recreational cannabis use in the country. Out of 4100 people who showed a preference, most chose home production and use only.
Another survey conducted by the NZ Drug Foundation indicates that 61% of New Zealand voters support decriminalisation or legalisation of growing cannabis for personal use at home.
The New Zealand government is going to hold a referendum on cannabis legalisation for personal use by the 2020 general elections. The government may take lessons from other nations, including Canada, Australia, and the U.S. to design its cannabis policy. The government may take follow the footsteps of other countries to outline its policies surrounding growing your own cannabis at home.
As of now, New Zealanders can’t legally grow their own cannabis at home. However, the situation and laws may change any time soon. For the many people waiting to legally grow and use cannabis, the referendum can’t come soon enough.