History of CBD and Cannabis In: New Zealand
Cannabis legalization has become more politically popular than ever before, and the speed at which this desire to legalize has occurred is simply remarkable. Barely fifteen years ago, cannabis and CBD were barely legal in any places. That’s not the case any longer, as some degree of cannabis legalization or liberalization has occurred in many places across the world.
Indeed, even in the most far-flung corners of the world, cannabis legalization seems to be occurring. This appears to be the case in New Zealand, located on the Australian continent. While cannabis use is still illegal in New Zealand, the country has taken baby steps towards liberalizing its cannabis laws and a major (non-binding) referendum is set for 2020 on whether or not to legalize cannabis for personal use.
History of Cannabis in New Zealand
Unlike many other countries, New Zealand does not have a history of hemp growth. Instead, the country used harakeke, a native plant, which could be used in many of the same ways as hemp.
Cannabis use was banned in New Zealand in 1927, but used as medicine in the country until 1965.
Like many other countries, cannabis is the 4th most popular drug in New Zealand, behind caffeine, alcohol and tobacco. 13.4% of the population between ages 18-64 have used marijuana, making New Zealand the 9th highest country in the world in terms of marijuana use.
Current Legal Status of Cannabis in New Zealand
The most recently updated broad-based cannabis law in the country is its 1975 Misuse of Drugs Act. This act makes illegal all forms of cannabis possession, though later amendments would allow for some limited exceptions. The maximum penalty for possession of cannabis is a relatively light three month prison sentence and $500 fine. Cultivation of cannabis could result in a seven year prison sentence, while supplying or manufacturing could result in a fourteen year sentence.
In 2018, an amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act was passed which allowed for individuals who are terminally ill to possess and smoke marijuana, as well as possess related paraphernalia.
Additionally, cannabis-based drugs can be prescribed, but only on a case by case basis. Thus far, the only drug which has earned governmental approval for prescription is Sativex, which is used in the treatment of rare seizure disorders in children. The purchase of the medicine is not subsidized by the government.
In 2020, New Zealand will hold a non-binding referendum about whether or not to legalize the personal use of cannabis. Specifically, the referendum will ask if voters support the “Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill,” which would allow for the commercial sale and purchase of cannabis, with certain restrictions in age, advertising and more.