Cannabis referendum draft law welcomed, but a missed opportunity to put people before profits, says NORML


Cannabis reform organisation NORML has welcomed the release today of more details about the cannabis referendum and a draft bill, but says the Government has missed a huge opportunity to make the reforms more popular.

Justice Minister Andrew Little and Greens Leader Andrew Shaw jointly released the draft bill and a new website ( The bill sets out a minimum age of 20 to purchase and use legal cannabis products, allows edible products, and sets a purchase limit of 14 grams per day.

“We welcome the detail and appreciate the work that has gone into this,” said NORML spokesperson Chris Fowlie in Auckland today. “The public of New Zealand needs to know what they will be voting on, and to have time to consider it properly. In particular we welcome the focus on consumer safety. It’s also heartening to see the commitment to running a public education campaign in the lead up to the referendum.”

“The draft bill is a huge step in the right direction, but is a missed opportunity to build in measures that would make reform benefit everyone,” said Mr Fowlie. “People tell us they want a law for the people, not just profits.”

NORML had previously called for a well-funded public education campaign ahead of the cannabis referendum, and a model based on social equity, social retail enterprises and social clubs.

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“It’s important the public can base their vote on clear factual information, not hysteria about evil gummy bears,” said Chris Fowlie in July 2019, in a blog post that predicted the appointment of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor to provide factual unbiased information, and called banning gummy bears a “no brainer”.

“The draft bill allows edibles but doesn’t have anything about social equity, expunging cannabis records, or encouraging local craft growers over booze-owned foreign corporates,” said Mr Fowlie today.

“We’re pleased adults will be able to grow their own, but are concerned the proposed limit of two plants – with a maximum of 4 per household – will not be sufficient for most cannabis consumers, while those with a green thumb could grow two monster plants.”

“The draft bill released today only applies to property owners, leaving renters and the homeless to find other ways.”

“The proposed age limit of 20 for purchase and use will condemn 18- and 19-year-olds to source cannabis illicitly from those prepared to operate outside the law, or choose the more harmful legal alternative of alcohol.”

“We had hoped the more vulnerable in society would not be left out,” said Mr Fowlie. “We also want the referendum to pass comfortably, so we’re looking for features that would be broadly supported by most New Zealanders.”

Chris Fowlie had previously written to Justice Minister Andrew Little and said that a model based on social equity, social enterprises and social clubs “could be what it takes to win the cannabis referendum”. In consultation with a wide variety of stakeholders, Mr Fowlie has designed the Cannabis & Hemp Opportunity, Investment and Social Equity (CHOISE) model “to win the cannabis referendum”.

“The draft bill released today goes part way there. We hope they incorporate some CHOISE aspects when filling in the details.”

The referendum announcement comes a week after a Horizon poll found a surge in support for the Yes vote; Ministry of Health statistics showed a 26% jump in the number of people self-identifying as cannabis consumers (now 15% of adults aged 15+, up from 11% in 2017/18); and the US state of Michigan had their first legal cannabis sales under a new law that promotes social equity.

The draft bill can be read here:

The CHOISE model can be downloaded here:


  1. Jesus Christ! Why all the fuss for fucks sake?Portugal
    Is this how mired in political high-wankery our government really is? Portugal
    Really? Is this the best we can get for our tax dollar? Portugal
    If I ran my business like our politicians run our gubbimint I’d a been broke and dead of old age by now. Portugal ( And that’s NO invitation for our gubbimint to be run like a business. In fact, I would argue, that this shamozzle is directly caused by the few crooks who indeed tried to run our politics like a business. For their profit, of course. And, I must say, it’s worked out well for them. Whadya say, homeless person? ) Portugal
    Pot? Just fucking do it ! Email the cops. ” Pot’s no longer illegal.” Done. Lets move on. Portugal
    Or? Just get a copy of the legislation that allowed the corporate drug dealers to get ethyl alcohol into supermarkets and redact the word alcohol and replace it with the word ‘Cannabis’. Portugal
    Again.Job done. Then? Sell cannabis beside the ice creams, cheeses and crackers and watch as ice cream, cheeses and cracker sales quadruple in a week. Portugal
    We could become a country of people known as the Happy-Fats. Of the Double-Fat Happy’s. Puff the Magic Plumpsters ? The Double-Cuddle Smoke-Meisters?
    The Rolling-In-The-Daisies-With-Your-Sweetie-On-A-Warm-Summers-Dayers? Portugal.
    Will be said… Portugal
    “ #1 Number One tourist destination Award goes to … OMG ! Nu Zillind ! “ Portugal
    Upon learning that, was said in a chemist store.Portugal
    Quick ! Call our supplier? Cancel that container of haemorrhoid cream. Portugal
    “There’s no more anal retention in New Zealand…” Portugal
    Better than rugby, P and domestic violence too I’d a thought. Portugal
    Those old farts of you still digging your toes in with regard to an awesome plant on more levels than can be explained here which is also damn good fun? Fuck off.
    You wait here, while a progressive, inclusive, supportive and open minded world leaves you behind. Portugal.

  2. So do any commentators seriously think that under the new law the gangs deals will be put out of business . I can imaging this referendum will be close and agree with Bridges that it will be NZ s Brexit moment..If past I hope the government have all those mental health workers trained up because they will be needed

    • Yep pretty much Trevor. It will be the usual parade of tossers. The rest of us just bite our lip and pay up.

    • Yes, the black market will die. Why would you buy pot from some arsehole when you can just go to a legitimate shop in your local shopping centre and purchase from a lovely lady in a sweet environment?

  3. The social club model has drawbacks ie beer pressure to consume more, dysfunctional relationships centered around substance use ie drug buddies , etc etc
    But I still think its worth runnning with , as the social support and companionship offered by club environs means vulnerable peeps self medicating with weed have some sort of friendship in their lives ,, and the cameras could pickup if they are starting to overuse or express anti social behaviours
    Sure Chris is supporting the trusts and all that , but I do think a well managed club to be a boon to the local community.
    When around 5 years back the Netherlands shut down 1/3 of their cafes , many had gone bad , but really that can and does happen to a bar or even a cafe that is poorly run

  4. The hand brake’s in Cannabis reform are the Banks refusing to lend and the Tenacles of the market that want to suck the profits out before the Pot hits the Pavement, so the Referendum is hi-jacked before its even on the ballot.
    This is’nt just a local phenomenon, its global.
    Whats necessary is a global Bank that crowd funds and collects startup capital for producers and the periferal support company’s to cover everything from the seed going in the soil to the Hemp-Packaged product – completely separate from the control of the Banking and Brokerage cartels wanting their pounds of flesh upfront.
    Maybe a Global Exchange Cooperative is a solution? I hope so!

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