How is New Zealand Gearing up for Cannabis Legalization?

Polls show that majority currently support the legalization of cannabis use.

Polls show that majority currently support the legalization of cannabis use.

Legality of cannabis use in New Zealand

Word has been out for a long time now about the therapeutic potentials of cannabis, and the matter now has a revolutionary ringer to it. Policy-makers in the country have faced a mounting barrage of calls for cannabis reforms by their constituencies. These emerging trends are now shaping a new regulatory landscape for the country’s cannabis industry.

The current regulatory framework is quite hazy at the moment, and law enforcements tend to now overlook certain offenses while still clamping down on others heavily. Legalization of medical use is largely a foregone conclusion, although the approval of channels of distribution is still a work in progress. Patients who turn to illegal means to source their cannabis products are hardly prosecuted. The government has indeed acknowledged their change of approach, asserting that the new move is in a positive direction.

In the same vein, small possession is increasingly being side-stepped by law enforcement, although the law still stipulates a punishment of up to $500 for the offense.

  

Support for the Legalization Outcome of the Cannabis Referendum

Polls showing support for legalization outcome of the referendum.

Polls showing support for legalization outcome of the referendum. img src.

Support for legalization in the polls has been drifting back and forth according to series of polls conducted over the past few years. This owes more to speculations about the details of the referendum, as information continues to trickle in slowly. Proponents and opponents have appealed to both facts and misinformation, and the percentage of undecided voters is growing at a rate which the group could play a pivotal role in the referendum.

Both sides are also decrying being underfunded in comparison to the other, insinuating that the other’s finances might give them an upper hand.

But polls also show that support for legalization increases when the legalization framework adequately addresses issues such as teen use and use in public places. For instance, an initial UMR survey conducted by the Helen Clark Foundation showed 46% support for ‘yes’ and 44% for ‘no’. But after the questionnaire was adjusted to reflect current draft restrictions like a purchase age of 20, limits on home-grown cannabis, and prohibition of consumption in public places, support for ‘yes’ jumped to 50%.

 

Why Cannabis Should be Legal in NZ

In an uncounted number of cases, cannabis has helped mitigate or relieve serious symptoms of ailments when mainstream medicine had been ineffective. Cannabis has proven in several instances to hold therapeutic potentials. But more clinical trials are needed to accurately verify the medicinal qualities of these drugs.

At the moment, the following therapeutic benefits of cannabis are backed by a massive corpus of anecdotal and clinical evidence:

  • Pain relief: Cannabis has often been prescribed to patients with chronic pains who’re unresponsive to traditional medicine.
  • Relief for cancer symptoms: From chemo-induced nausea to loss of appetite and the induction of self-destruction in cancer cells, cannabis can help cancer patients cope with their symptoms in numerous ways.
  • Anxiety disorder: With their pseudo-sedative qualities, certain strains of cannabis can help calm the nerves of people with stress-induced or pathological anxiety.
  • Sleep inducer: People suffering from insomnia and other sleeping disorders can also benefits from the soothing, sedative effects of cannabis.
  • Neuroplasticity and neurogenesis: Thanks to its potentials to help create new neurons and promote the health of existing ones, cannabis has been shown to help fight neuro-degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, etc in older people.
 

Will New Zealand Legalize Recreational Cannabis?

According to polls, the upcoming referendum is poised to bring about the legalization of cannabis use in some form (most likely medicinal use). So, in the worst case, medicinal use of some sort of medicinal use will be legalized. But the best-case scenario will definitely not be a full-blown legalization of medicinal and adult use. Even if the vote turns out in resounding favor of the full legalization of adult use, there’s a good chance that the result won’t be honored on the parliamentary floor. Policy makers in New Zealand already have a notorious history of defying referendum results. So in the case of a referendum result that favors adult use legalization, New Zealand’s policy makers may still not revert prohibition measures.

 

Should New Zealand legalise cannabis?

New Zealand can take the lead in the committee of nations and show other countries the way to creating a well-rounded regulatory framework for cannabis regulation. Rather than continue with prohibitive measures, which push desperate patients to patronize the illegal markets, the government could legalize and regulate the industry to take away the revenue source from the illegal markets while also giving access to drug to people who need it for therapeutic reasons.