You could soon be able to produce cannabis-infused products without a license at home as long as you do not use dangerous methods, if Kiwis vote to pass the recreational cannabis legislation.
But it is important to remember that even if Kiwis vote to pass the legislation, that does not mean it will become law. After the election, the incoming Government can introduce a Bill to Parliament that would legalise it.
The complete and final version of the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill that will be voted on in one of two referendums at this year's general election has been released by Justice Minister Andrew Little.
The other referendum is ACT leader David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill, which has already been approved by Parliament, and will become law if Kiwis vote to pass it. It would legalise assisted dying in some circumstances.
"It is important that all eligible voters have the opportunity to be informed about the upcoming referendums," Little said. "The Government is committed to providing impartial, unbiased information on the referendums and its process."
In December 2019, the Government released a first draft of the legislation, the key aspects of proposed rules about growing, selling and purchasing cannabis for recreational purposes, and much of it has stayed the same.
The final version confirms that growing cannabis at home will be allowed, and you will be able to make you own cannabis-infused products at home - such as hash cookies - as long as you don't use organic solvents like butane or propane.
Anyone aged 20 or over will be able to:
- Purchase up to 14 grams of dried cannabis per day but only from licensed outlets
- Enter a licensed premise where cannabis is sold or consumed
- Consumer cannabis on a private property or a licensed premise
- Grow up to two plants, with a maximum of four plants per household
- Share up to 14 grams of dried cannabis with another person aged 20 or over
These will be the general rules
- A minimum purchase and use age of 20
- Confining use to private homes and licensed premises
- Prescribing conditions for personal growing and sharing
- Requirements for public health messaging
- Licensing the whole of the supply chain
- Restricting marketing and advertising
- Penalties for rule-breakers
Importing cannabis, growing it in a place that's visible to the public, purchasing more than 14 grams in a day or possessing more than that, and using cannabis in public, could set you back up to $500, the legislation says.
If you exceed the per person limit or household limit on growing cannabis, you could be fined up to $1000. The same applies to growing more than four plants on a property, growing cannabis in a public place, and sending it in the mail.
The other penalties get a bit steeper.
Selling cannabis to a person aged 19 or younger could send you to prison for up to four years and leave you with a $150,000 fine.
If you sell cannabis unauthorised, you could face up to two years in prison if it was just you, but if you were selling it through a company, it could face a fine of up to $100,000.
Likewise, if you sell more than the 14 grams allowed to distribute, you could face a fine of up to $3000, and knowingly growing 10 or more cannabis plants could put you in prison for up to three months with a fine of up to $2000.
An individual who imports or exports cannabis unauthorised will face up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, while if it was a business, it could be fined up to $50,000.
The aim of the legislation is to control how cannabis is produced and supplied in New Zealand, by limiting the amount of licensed cannabis for sale, controlling the potency of the product and making sure pricing balances the risk of Kiwis going to the black market.
A ban will be put in place on importing cannabis - only licensed businesses will be able to import the seeds. The Government also aims to separate business that can grow cannabis and produce products from those that sell it.
At the same time, the Government wants to reduce people's dependency on cannabis by investing in addiction services, with a focus on lowering the use amongst young people by increasing the age of first use.