Not all Common wealth countries are approaching Cannabis legalisation in the same way. New Zealand is set to decide the fate of recreational cannabis on October 17th, 2020 and although the proposed law shares many similarities to Canada, there are some distinct differences.

Canada legalised medical cannabis way back in 2001 and formally legalised recreational use 2018, making it only the second country in the world to do so. If the Cannabis referendum passes in New Zealand with a majority of more than 50%, Kiwis will only be the third country to have federally legal cannabis.

Draft proposals of New Zealand Cannabis referendum show a much more restricted cannabis industry than that seen in Canada. Although packaging, testing, restrictions and quality control measures will remain nearly the same, New Zealand is set to have much tighter restrictions on consumption and marketing.

CategoryCanadaNew Zealand
Home Grow4 Plants per household2 Plants per household
Public ConsumptionDepending on local Lawsno
Minimum Age18 (depending on local laws)20
Mail Orderyesno
Public LoungesDepending on local LawsYes
MarketingLimitedRestricted
Possession30 grams14 grams

Canadian and New Zealand cannabis legislation share the goal of reducing harm and protect the public through cannabis regulation. The main mechanisms for protecting the public are to minimise the black market, reduce access to minors, establish new addiction services and control potency. New oversight committees will be established to oversee implementation.

Similar regulations for homegrown cannabis is allowed under both country’s bills. Potency limits won’t apply for home grown cannabis in New Zealand, meaning THC levels could hypothetically be stronger than that available in the retail environment.

Canadian Cannabis law is much more relaxed regarding marketing, public consumption, mail order and possessions. If draft proposals are any indication, the New Zealand cannabis industry will have to be very much out of sight and much more regulated than the Canadian system.

Should a “yes” vote pass and be announced on October 9th, the final draft of the bill could still be a long way off. Canadians and Americans have both had considerable legal debate regarding how cannabis is handled.

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