Kia ora koutou

Cannabis has been in the news this past week, with new figures showing that fewer of our young people are trying cannabis, continuing a trend that has been seen since 2001. There have also been a number of reports on polling for the cannabis referendum, so we thought it was high time for an update on the work of our cannabis panel.

Our panel has been hard at work pulling together evidence about use patterns, arrests and convictions, social harms and public health impacts related to cannabis under our current prohibition framework, and how these might change if cannabis is legalised. Each of our panel members is bringing different information and expertise to the table and we are really lucky to have such diverse insights.

Some of you may have seen the early draft bill released by the government late last year, which has many of the details of what legalisation of recreational cannabis use would look like in Aotearoa New Zealand if people vote yes at the referendum in September. These include a minimum purchase and use age of 20; only allowing consumption at private homes and licensed premises; limits to how much cannabis can be purchased, grown at home and shared; requirements for public health messaging, licensing the whole of the supply chain; and restrictions on marketing and advertising.

The details of the regulation are really important in helping us understand what the impacts of legalising cannabis might be on our public health, public safety, and youth and social outcomes. They also help us navigate how the evidence from places overseas that have legalised cannabis, including Uruguay, Canada and some states in the US, might apply to our situation.

Because some of the details are still being worked through for the draft legislation, we have delayed our release date to make sure that the evidence we provide is as closely aligned to exactly what New Zealanders are voting on as possible. We are now planning for all of the information to be available on our website by June. In the meantime, we have been collating some of the key news stories for you to follow here, and you can follow any other updates here.

Ngā mihi

Juliet and Tracey