Cannabis referendum: The forms of cannabis the Government is considering including

Newshub can reveal the forms of cannabis the Government's been considering covering in the referendum on legalising recreational cannabis.

The Government will reveal its plans for a referendum on Tuesday, but the announcement has been overshadowed by a leak of a Cabinet document to the National Party.

The document warns legalising edibles could encourage cannabis use, but could still be healthier than smoking cannabis.

National has given Newshub selected portions of a Cabinet document it was leaked.

The document considers legalising three forms of cannabis:


  • "Raw cannabis - this includes fresh or dried cannabis plant material (including seeds) with no additives. It can be smoked, vaporised or consumed with food or drink.
  • "Cannabis resin and other concentrates - this includes a wide range of concentrated products, including resin, oil and wax. Concentrates are generally more potent than raw cannabis, although potency can vary significantly;
  • "Cannabis-infused products - this includes edibles, drinks, lotions and patches, all of which are used without smoking or inhaling. These products can be made with varying levels of potency."

National Party drug reform spokesperson Paula Bennett told Newshub she's worried edibles "could appeal to children, or they could be taken accidentally by people who don't know what they are actually consuming".

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wouldn't answer questions on whether she shares Bennett's concerns.

"We need to keep in mind what we are doing as a Government is simply formulating a question and a set of principles for the public to vote on," she told media.

A study published in April found that in Colorado, where cannabis is legal, edible cannabis is disproportionately linked to acute psychiatric and emergency department visits.

The Cabinet document warns the convenient consumption of edibles "may encourage cannabis use", but that when cannabis is smoked it "harms nearly every organ in the body."

"There is a tension between enabling alternative ways to consume cannabis and providing easy, convenient consumption methods that may encourage cannabis use," the document reads.

"Therefore, I recommend that commercial manufacture of cannabis-infused products be permitted with strict regulations, such as strict labelling and packaging requirements."

"I can't understand why we are legalising a product that you can smoke when we have an ambition to be smoke-free by 2025," Bennett told Newshub.

But the details of what a legalised cannabis market would look like in New Zealand are only part of the problem.

The Prime Minister is the captain of a leaky boat.

When asked whether she would investigate the source of the leaked Cabinet document, Ardern said she is "not going to spend too much time bogged down on that question".

We'll finally get to the bottom of the referendum question tomorrow when the Justice Minister makes the big announcement.

However, it's unlikely we'll get to the bottom of who leaked a highly sensitive Cabinet document to the Opposition, allowing National to selectively leak the bits that sound bad.