The only ‘unanswered questions’ about the cannabis referendum is how do you smoke 42 joints in a day and where do I sign up?


Simon Bridges is desperately attempting to remain politically relevant in the cannabis debate after the Government blindsided National with a clearly defined referendum question and a clear set of guidelines to a regulated Cannabis market…

“Many unanswered questions’: Cannabis referendum risks being NZs Brexit – Bridges 

Bridges, the National Party leader, says there are still too many unanswered questions about the scheme and how it would be enforced. He told The AM Show much of the work would need to be done after the referendum if legalisation was supported.

“There are so many unanswered questions. This has the risk of being New Zealand’s Brexit, right, where we have to backfill and work out the answers of the hard questions,” he said on Wednesday.

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…I’ve always believed that National risked being left high and dry with their ridiculously conservative position that the status quo was somehow sustainable

The argument against prohibition, the empowering of criminals and the ongoing discrimination and persecution against cannabis smokers have all combined alongside much of the OECD now moving towards legalisation. This leaves National’s socially conservative position looking 18th century in comparison and their criticisms come across as petty nitpicking rather than principled opposition…

Bridges has three main questions that he doesn’t believe the proposed scheme addresses. 

The first is about the tax rate, with Bridges saying the Government needs to find the right balance in order to ensure cannabis isn’t too accessible, but also isn’t too expensive that it goes underground.

“Make no mistake, if it is gangs now and corporates after, this is all about money. You set [tax rates] too high and you keep a black market and gangs peddling drugs.

“You put it too low and you are effectively incentivising cannabis over other legal drugs at the moment – like tobacco and drink.”

The draft Bill does contain a section for “excise tax”, but doesn’t provide any specific rates. One function of the Cannabis Regulatory Authority is to administer and collect excise taxes, levies, and fees. 

The excise tax will be “applied to fresh cannabis at the point of production based on weight and potency [and] on a progressive basis, according to potency levels”. For example, the higher the Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content – the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis – the higher the tax.

…so what? The tax rate will be decided by the CRA, pretending that rate is somehow the reason why you shouldn’t vote for the referendum is ridiculous. Everyone agrees it must be taxed, because the rate hasn’t;t been set isn’t a legitimate reason to not legalise…

But Bridges also wants to know what THC levels will be allowed. Under the draft Bill, that will be something set by the Cannabis Regulatory Authority. 

“That is incredibly important. That is the buzz. This is not like the 80s, where it was sorta 3 percent. It can be as high as 27, 30 percent. You gotta be really careful about that with the mental health and psychosis issues that go with that,” Bridges said.

…again, sure. Like alcohol has a percentage clearly displayed on the product, cannabis will also require clear labelling on the THC levels. Again, this is not a reason to stop legalisation…

Finally, Bridges is also concerned there is little information about how the Government or any newly-created agency would deal with drug-driving.

…this at least is a legitimate criticism and it’s one already dealt with by those countries that have legalised so taking the learnings from those authorities will help establish things here.

The Government have done a tremendous job of limiting the attack spin lines and just after day 1, National have nothing to show but stammering nit picking.

We have a real debate on our hands now and I am genuinely excited that this might actually work and that National’s arguments will look weak and petty and that New Zealanders will see through them.



  1. We seriously don’t need weed! We just need to all be on the same endorphins Bridges is on. You know the ones that always looks like he has a forced smile to look like he’s chilled.

    • Of course we don’t “need” weed.. That’s beside the point… This is about correcting yet another decades long injustice motivated by the wrong principles.. Every other country that has gone down this path has succeeded in their aims… This is massively important to the hundreds of thousands of people who”s lives have been derailed that should never have seen the inside of a jail cell.. So many futures stopped in their tracks..

  2. Most of Bridges’ questions were canvassed in the discussions had when they were in Government. Oh they weren’t? Cannabis was one of the issues in their ‘too hard’ basket?

  3. I’m utterly amazed this referendum won’t be a near automatic slam-dunk for legalisation. The fact that it looks like the referendum might well fail (if the the latest polls of 49:43 against are anything to go by), is something I didn’t think would happen. Looks like an uphill battle to get it across the line. Had no idea NZ was this conservative (like more conservative than numerous states in the US).

    • It’s Pakeha boomer racism (related to National testing/ruling over the working class), in the US people who smoke are the old hippies and the hipsters – here is the Maori.

      • @ SPC. No it’s not.
        Your generalizations are extremely general. And, at this point dangerously divisive.
        The Maori versus non Maori narrative does one thing well. It divides.
        We need a unifying narrative. We have a common enemy and it’s not simply a Maori/ Non Maori commonality.
        We can sort that out later. Right now? We have a far greater threat to our way of existence.
        The banksters ( Foreign/Australian. ) are selling us to the highest wanker .
        AO/NZ gubbimint? Can you get rid of the banksters please? Now? Today?
        ( Now, lets see what they say to that. Lets see what OUR gubbimint does? )

  4. It’s easy to slag off the leader of the opposition Martyn, he’s a fool.
    What you ignore is that this government are clueless morons who know as little about the herb as they do about firearms and they can’t even do basic arithmetic.
    How the fuck does the right to purchase half an ounce a day relate to the right to grow two plants a year .
    And is that two females at harvest?
    The question is not who do we vote for or how we answer referendum questions but how we free ourselves from the oppression of government of fools elected by greater fools!
    Civil disobedience to the end.

    • It’s 4 plants per household – it should not be too hard to set up a community club whereby extra plants can be grown locally (those allowing others to grow, while not using, or buying from a supplier)

  5. The Bill at the moment is pretty good. There is at least one part regarding weed being ‘in transit” that can be open to interpretation I would be interested to see how the Police interpret that in various situations.

    I remember in the early 2000’s the Labour Govt pushed through a Law making it illegal to have booze if it is not on a licensed property or at home. Therefore making it illegal to carry it in the car. This was in reaction to the New years riots in Tauranga and the Mount.
    Civil Rights groups questioned it and a blow off comment from the time was it will be adjusted in the new year. Correct me if I am wrong but last I heard it hadn’t been changed.

  6. Nitrium:
    > I’m utterly amazed this referendum won’t be a near automatic slam-dunk for legalisation.

    A referendum on decriminalization of personal use would have seemed like a pretty safe bet to me. But as Chris Fowlie has said in his guest pieces here, the government have been doing careful research to make sure that whatever question is asked in the referendum, it’s one that can get a majority for “yes”. Regulated, legal sales, it seems, is something Labour and the Greens are confident a majority of kiwis can get behind. It’s up to us to keep getting the facts and the arguments out there and convince them, especially to sectors of the public who are less likely to have heard them, and make sure the referendum passes with a healthy majority.

  7. Talking points

    1. The only difference between stocking up on marijuana and alcohol is the former is easier to buy in bulk amounts because it is lighter and less bulky. But of course no one buying alcohol in bulk during a special intends to drink it all at once.

    2. Taxing marijuana per THC, as per drinks as to alcohol content, ensures THC content is identified and price incentive to go for lower THC content products – especially useful for those using for health reasons (because of the other component in marijuana).

    3. Simon Bridges concern not to advantage marijuana over alcohol and tobacco indicates that his parties opposition to legalisation is based on support for those two products (expects further party funding accordingly) – note the former MP for Clutha and the Hutt South MP both worked in the same job (one after the other) in corporate affairs for an American tobacco company (their only job outside of politics since leaving uni).

  8. Heh, Paula Benefit will “not have inhaled” if she is intended to be the Nashnull spokesperson on this. Clohe will waste her now and he detail is emerging.

    Another likely positive of this timely Referendum is increased voter turnout. Nats look so last century.

  9. That reference by Bullshit Bridges about comparing this change too Brexit is as stupid as the one Jacinda used about climate change being this generations nuclear free moment and then doing feck all about curtailing the fossil fuel industry.
    Bridges is once again playing too his base and those idiots and fence sitters that would seriously consider voting for these lunatics based on a good old fashioned scare campaign.
    Sure this is a referendum but there are votes in it here for the Nasty Natz and the direction they are going in with law and order.
    Expect a lot more fake fear from the National party.

  10. So I’m told, one of the ‘things’ about the psychoactive effects of ‘pot’ AKA ‘dope’ AKA ‘mary jane’ AKA ‘marijuana’ AKA ‘cannabis’ is that a level of spherical thinking can take place.
    Once unfettered by the bullshit we’re sold daily by a corrupted MSM we can see the many sides to what they hope we continue to think is a one sided situation where by they tell us they’re in control, so move along. Nothing to see here.
    ” Just one more little thing before you go? Work harder then give me your money? ”
    Imagine being one of the cheap-seats, Freak Show performers that is National Party members of parliament being seen for what/who they really are?
    Seeing the ‘real’ paula bennett? The ‘real’ simon bridges? The ‘real’ sundry other be-suited narcissists who rule our roosts.
    Imagine that?
    That’d make David Ike look like a David Attenborough clone.
    “ Here, we have an extraordinary trans-morphing lizard person. Rarely seen in their true habitat and without their clever camouflage, instead choosing to mimic human form to move about amongst us as human beings.”

  11. And how about this…?
    To think this is the sort of progress that’s possible with a little imagination and skill as exemplified in this link but is stymied, buried, demonised and stalled in AO/NZ by political fools and cowards and we must pay them to obey them.
    It’s like a living fucking nightmare.
    Being stuck in a small space and be ruled by spineless, weak minded fuckwits. ( Satre’s words…”Hell is other people. ”

    Homeless people? Read and further despair.
    The Flat House review – a home made from hemp that will blow your mind

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