Legal status of marijuana in New Zealand
New Zealand has become a leader in the cannabis conversation in the Oceania region. In 2018, the government legalised cannabis for medical use. And although recreational cannabis remains illegal in the country, the government targeted 2020 for a referendum on the issue.
Now, the upcoming referendum will hold this September, making New Zealand the first country to put the question of whether or not recreational cannabis should be legal in the hands of her citizens.
A final draft of the recreational cannabis bill has already been made public to give New Zealanders the specifics of what the fully legal cannabis country would look like if they vote Yes in September. Here’s what to expect:
- Only plants and seeds will be legal, initially (edibles might be approved later).
- You must be 20 years or older to purchase and consume cannabis.
- You can only purchase 14 grams of cannabis at a time, and grow a maximum of 2 plants (4 plants per household).
- Cannabis products can’t contain more than 15% of THC (the higher the potency, the higher the tax).
- Cannabis can only be used at private residences (at home) and in licensed premises like cannabis stores. No public smoking.
- Those under the legal age of 20 who are caught with cannabis will face a fine or health-based response or education. No conviction will be recorded.
- Those who sell to people under age 20, on the other hand, will face up to 4 years in jail, and selling to anyone without a licence could land you up to 2 years in jail.
- Advertising cannabis products is prohibited.
- Companies will have to choose between selling or growing cannabis – not both.
- Companies will be limited on how much cannabis they can get from the national stock.
- Imports and exports of cannabis will be prohibited.
But until then (and only if Kiwis vote Yes to legal recreational cannabis), only medical cannabis remains legal in New Zealand.
Benefits of using marijuana
One of the main reasons why cannabis has grown more acceptable around the world is because of its medicinal properties. The plant is more than just a recreational substance for users looking to get high. It also serves as a treatment for a number of health conditions, such as:
- Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases
- Multiple sclerosis
- Side effects of chemotherapy, including nausea and vomiting in cancer patients.
- Mental illness
- Neuroplasticity, and more.
The cannabis plant contains over 100 cannabinoids, the most popular of which are THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol). Both compounds have medicinal properties, but THC is responsible for the euphoric effects that recreational users crave. CBD, on the other hand, lacks the ability to get you “high”, but is also highly medicinal, making it a favorite for those in the medical community looking for cannabis treatments.
Several studies prove the efficacy of cannabis as a medicine for different health conditions. For instance, one study found patients with refractive pediatric epilepsy who were exposed to cannabis treatments saw significant reductions in seizures, many as much as 100 percent.
Final words – How to get marijuana products in New Zealand
While cannabis remains illegal for recreational use, the drug is readily available in the underground market. However, getting caught with cannabis without a prescription could land you in jail.
To obtain cannabis legally in New Zealand, you need a prescription. Even so, it might be difficult and expensive to purchase the drug after getting a prescription, because they are mostly imported from other countries.
Recently, the current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) went into play, aiming to ease the cultivation and manufacture of cannabis products for medicinal use. This is supposed to ease medical cannabis access as well as reduce the costs of acquiring cannabis products.
Although the cGMP includes dried marijuana products under medicinal cannabis, it bans cannabis products that are intended for smoking. There, marijuana products that can be vaped, as well as extracts and pharmaceuticals, are the legal cannabis products in New Zealand, and are only meant as medicinal therapeutics to be obtained with a prescription.