New Zealanders may vote on legalizing cannabis in 2019
NZ Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, promised back in 2017, to hold a stand-alone referendum on the subject of legalizing Cannabis, giving Kiwis a chance to say yay or nay on the subject. If the majority of votes go in favor of legalized medical cannabis and the government’s bill wins approval, New Zealand will get its own domestic medical marijuana market similar in nature to that offered in Canada, Uruguay and several American States.
However, whether they live up to that promised referendum opportunity, could, it appears, be another matter, altogether. The government is currently debating whether to hold the vote in 2019. The concern from local politicians is that the date for the Cannabis referendum might slip, and overlap the year of the 2020 General Election – which doesn’t sound like a smart move politically or from the point of view of each party communicating clear policies to their citizens so they can vote.
What prompted the NZ government think about marijuana legalization?
Honestly, there’s no single answer to this question!
Cannabis-supporting communities within NZ hope that weed presents a way forward: reducing the crime rate, bringing safe jobs and new business opportunities, and providing a supplement to New Zealand’s existing dairy and agriculture industry.
Is Cannabis Legalization in New Zealand set for a revenue boom?
Legal cannabis is big money as the stock price of some of the companies involved in producing it and selling it might tell you. The states and countries where marijuana is legal do receive tax benefits from pot legalization.
For instance, Colorado, the first US state to legalize received $198.5 million in tax revenue last year, on $1.3 billion worth of sales of marijuana. The industry also introduced more than 18,000 new full-time jobs in 2015 and spurred a broader $2.4 billion in economic activity for the state.
In Canada, the effects are still only estimated but they could be even larger. Some suggest that Canada’s economy could benefit by uo to $24 billion directly as a result of the change. In 2017, (on the untaxed black market) nearly 4.9 million Canadians aged 15 to 64 spent around $5.7 billion on cannabis for medical and non-medical purposes.
Down Under (and across a bit), legalizing cannabis could create an annual $1 billion medicinal cannabis market and $5 billion recreational market in New Zealand, according to Abe Gray, curator of the Whakamana Cannabis Museum Dunedin. Gray says that the country is already too late to market with legal cannabis through out of date laws prohibiting this globally important agricultural commodity.
Is Legalization a positive economy move?
Hemp grower Andrew Earle describes legalization of weed as a "hugely positive move" for the country’s economy. Earle grows an acre of hemp in Golden Bay, NZ.
He says that legalization would lead to thousands of jobs, strengthen communities and provide opportunities for farmers to produce marijuana in more ethical and sustainable ways.
The marijuana plant has, he says, over 50,000 uses. Legalization would enable farmers to produce highly nutritious food sources and medicines using the Cannabis plant. For chronic pain suffers, legalization will give people access to the high-quality medicinal cannabis products legally to ease their situation.
It’s worth noting that the number of fatal deaths from synthetic cannabis overdoses has soared in New Zealand, increasing from two deaths in five years to 45 in one year. Natural cannabis is safer than the synthetic cannabis products, which contain a totally different set of compounds, meant to activate the same receptors in the brain as natural cannabis.
NZ Government Believes Legalization wills Combat Weed-Induced Crime Rate
According to the economist Yu-Wei Luke Chu, who writes for The Conversation, in the US, medical marijuana laws haven’t caused an increased crime rate in any state in which medial cannabis is legal – a major concern for NZ policy makers. In fact, the crime rate actually decreased by nearly 20% in California after marijuana legalization.
Medical marijuana laws will allow Kiwis to grow marijuana plants legally, which mean no illegal purchase of weed, so no drug trafficking. Local farmers will legally grow cannabis to be sold to dispensaries, meaning reduced business for those that grow and distribute Cannabis – a trade which is often surrounded by smuggling is often linked to extreme levels of violence.
There are many valid reasons supporting the legalization of medical marijuana in New Zealand. There are also lessons to learn from success in other markets Whichever reason, the government picks, they will need a strict regulatory framework to legalize weed and implement their policies for Cannabis production, growth, sales and consumption in the country, similar in nature to that Canadians have developed.