Draft Cannabis Bill Looks "Pretty Good"

Tuesday 3 December 2019, 9:24PM

By RedPR


Abe Gray from Whakamana
Abe Gray from Whakamana Credit: Supplied

Looks pretty good.

That’s what Whakamana spokesperson, cannabis academic and expert Abe Gray, is saying after Justice Minister Andrew Little today released the draft bill for feedback from politicians.

Gray says it is pleasing to see in part 1 of the bill’s purpose, that the government wants to provide access to a legal and quality-controlled supply of cannabis for adults who choose to use cannabis.

“It is good to see the government focusing on the matter of adults making a choice and what is really key to that is being sure that people are making informed decisions,” he says.

Abe can also talk about:

  • Providing for limited growing for personal use
  • Anyone who breaks the rules will be dealt with proportionately and as a health issue
  • The bill clarifies the issue around accessories and broadens opportunities around retailing
  • Consumption premises – definition of, which is good.
  • The smoking of it – seems to be allowed. Abe is interested in this. He believes vaporising needs to be considered. Smokefree 2025 does not mean no smoking – it restricts advertising etc.

"At Whakamana, we are absolutely focused providing correct and true information,” says Abe. “There is so much misinformation out there, we really want people to make informed decisions.”

Abe Gray says there will always be people wanting to bombard the issue with irrelevant in incorrect information it was pleasing to hear the Minister say in late October, that he plans to combat misinformation and manipulation in any campaigns leading up to the cannabis bill.

The plans include a special team within the Ministry of Justice to direct people to information aimed to be as accurate and neutral as possible, and to be on the look-out for any attempts to deliberately mislead the public.

Abe adds that it’s pleasing to see that the draft bill announced today includes a minimum age of 20 to use and purchase cannabis, and that there will be controls to ensure the potency of the products are regulated.

“There’s a growing body of evidence that indicates the health effects of cannabis are related to dose-levels. He recently publicly supported work from Bath University researchers calling for the introduction and prescribing of standard units for cannabis. He says managing dose levels is absolutely key to getting this right in New Zealand.


Key points from Abe Gray, spokesman, Whakamana:

The draft bill addresses:

a Providing access to a legal and quality-controlled supply of cannabis for adults who choose to use cannabis; and

b Ensuring that responses to contraventions of the Act are proportionate, encourage compliance, and incorporate a focus on reducing overall harms.

This is very pleasing and a positive position to be taking.


Agency yet to be established – like the "Cannabis Ministry", which will develop good practice guidelines for individuals who choose to grow cannabis at home in accordance with legislative and regulatory provisions; and

Whakamana wants to work with the newly established cannabis regulatory authority to collect accurate data and continue to meet the needs of cannabis consumers while still reducing overall harm

Time period from positive vote to implementation still to be determined

Outcomes to be reviewed every 5 years or more frequently

Government agencies to represent the interests of specific population groups on advisory committee – who is on that? Need to be sure it is a broad reflection and independent.

2 plants per person, max 4 per household so no collectives

Looks like there’s an intent to prevent landlords from prohibiting tenants cultivating 2 plants this is good.

Fines only for up to 10 plants, fines likely and maximum 3 months for fewer than10 plants

Plants must be out of public sight and not accessible from any public area, compliance orders and then fines for breaching this – this is good / standard

14 grams max to just casually carry around and fines for breaching, being misreported as people will be allowed to buy 14 grams a day. Half a small snack size zip lock bag – about 14 joints.

Social sharing of up to 14 grams will be allowed – this is excellent. No sending by mail or courier

Fines for consumption in public place including in your / a vehicle

4 years jail and 150k fine for supply to minors, bigger penalties and fines for licensed retailers – this is pleasing

2 yrs jail and 100k fine for selling without a license – also pleasing

2 yrs jail and 10k fines for importing more than 14g, small fines for importing less than 14g

No production of concentrates without a licence – will this mean hair straighteners are banned and how would that be enforced? (slightly tongue in cheek but still a relevant question). Although no production of concentrates without a licence, people are not precluded from making cannabis infused products, so can I make rosin and butane hash oil (BHO) if I plan to mix it into food or lotion later? Needs clarification.

Can’t hold a license to cultivate and retail at the same time – pleasing as we do not want don’t want massive vertical integration

No alcohol or tobacco at cannabis retail/consumption venues

Dispensaries can’t sell food but consumption premises can

Need a licence to sell cannabis accessories

Restricted hours and host responsibility apply to consumption premises

Exhibition in museums and art galleries is an exemption to advertising restrictions -– this is great news for Whakamana

Retailers can’t advertise and there’s restrictions on the public use of the trademarks of cannabis products but not clearly restrictions on the trademarks of retailers, and clearly not on museums 

No exclusive supply contracts for events

No reduced prices promotions or rewards programmes unless authorised

Advertisement is allowed for the purposes of advertising services to assist in managing health related harms only

They haven’t decided yet if the same entities will be allowed to hold a licence to retail and operate a consumption premises at the same time

Maximum and minimum trading hours for consumption premises

Duty managers, as with alcohol, but acting managers can step in for a few weeks at a time to give breaks

You must not sell to impaired or intoxicated people at consumption premises

You must not allow patrons to become impaired or intoxicated at consumption premises or let them in at all but you can take reasonable steps to get them to a safe space within the premises or eject them as soon as you become aware

Cannot allow any “quarrelsome violent insulting or disorderly conduct to take place at consumption venues”. Clearly this won’t be a problem for cannabis consumption venues, however what about alcohol premises?! There should be consistency

Licences can reflect separation of different parts of premises and different uses for places at different times of day

Testing for product constituents and constituents of smoke must be carried out for each product but only once a year – overseas this is often done by “batch” as they can be variable from batch to batch. Additional tests need to be controlled though so it doesn’t become onerous and costly to the provider – this seems to have been addressed below…..

Can require additional tests but for no more than 10% of a manufacturer’s products in any year

Can require plain packaging but haven’t completely decided on how restrictive yet

Tracing and recall ability of products required but not quite requiring seed to sale tracking for all growers

Labelling required for different cannabinoids present and total amount of THC weight for weight – very pleasing

12 month statute of limitations for infringing regulations when it is an enforcement action brought by an officer of the cannabis authority; can be criminally prosecuted or fined under the act

Progressive tax on THC at point of cultivation