New Zealand is leaning towards recreational cannabis legalization for 2020

“A ‘yes’ vote in the 2020 referendum will be positive for social justice and equity, contribute to reducing the country’s excessively large prison population, and enable those health issues associated with cannabis to be dealt with upfront,” former Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark

Back to Article
Back to Article

New Zealand is leaning towards recreational cannabis legalization for 2020

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






A vote set to take place in November 2020 could result in adult-use cannabis being legalized throughout New Zealand. 

The news comes after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed his plans to host a referendum for recreational cannabis legalization in New Zealand; $13.4 million dollars has been funneled into the initiative, which is said to be non-binding. 

New Zealand’s cannabis referendum is set to take place no later than November 21, 2020. It will be held during the general election. Until that time, the plant will remain illegal as per the Misuse of Drugs Act.

According to the Act, anyone who is caught growing or supplying cannabis could face a 14-year stint behind bars. Individuals caught in possession of the plant also run the risk of being put in jail for three months.

Just one cannabis-based medicine is currently available in New Zealand

Patients who require cannabis-based treatments in New Zealand are limited to obtaining Sativex, which is only prescribed to individuals who have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Sativex is produced by GW Pharmaceuticals. The British drugs company also produces Epidiolex, which gained FDA-approval in June 2018. 

In New Zealand, ministerial approval is required for patients to get their hands on Sativex, leaving patients with other chronic conditions with no choice but to buy from the black market

Thankfully for in-need consumers, the cannabis referendum is being supported by a number of lawmakers, including former Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark. During an interview with the Guardian newspaper, Clark stated that cannabis prohibition doesn’t work.

“A ‘yes’ vote in the 2020 referendum will be positive for social justice and equity, contribute to reducing the country’s excessively large prison population, and enable those health issues associated with cannabis to be dealt with upfront,” says Clark.

She also made a point of noting that 76.7 percent of New Zealanders have admitted to trying cannabis by the time they turned 25; in spite of the fact that anyone caught in possession of or with intent to sell cannabis in New Zealand could face a hefty fine and a long stint behind bars. 

With so many Kiwis keen to try the plant, there is some serious profit potential to be made if a recreational market opens up here.

New Zealand cannabis legalization: Non-binding referendums have been unsuccessful in the past

Investors from Canada and Australia are already swooping in on New Zealand non-existent (yet) cannabis industry. It’s not really surprising why – New Zealand population rest at approximately 4.78 million and a significant portion of that amount could very well become paying consumers.

Although New Zealand’s looming cannabis initiative has been described as a “binding referendum” by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Justice Minister Andrew Little, broadcasters from Radio New Zealand claim that it technically cannot be considered “binding.”

Over the past few years, only one of seven non-binding referendums have been respected by members of the government and parliament. So, if you’re wondering whether or not recreational cannabis in New Zealand will be legalized in 2020, you’ll have to just wait and see.