Cannabis referendum explained: What Kiwis will vote for or against

Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell believes the legalisation of recreational cannabis would benefit patients who need cannabis for medical reasons.

“Let’s say the medical cannabis scheme is too strict, there are fewer products and the products that are available are very pricey – then the referendum becomes important.”

New Zealand’s medical cannabis scheme, which aims to give patients better access to medicines came into effect in April. The scheme allows GPs to prescribe CBD, as well as New Zealand-based growing.

However, Bell is still concerned about cost.

“A major barrier is still in place, being the cost of medicines, which face major hurdles in obtaining Pharmac or other price subsidies,” he wrote on the Drug Foundation’s website.

“We know that when patients are not able to obtain medicines from the formal scheme they will buy from the informal, illicit market, and face the risk of criminalisation.”

Although in favour of the referendum, Bell has voiced his concern about the set potency limit of 15 percent. He has suggested the Government lower the limit to 6 or 7 percent. 

Family First national director Bob McCroskie is strongly against legalising cannabis for recreational use, as he believes it is harmful to the brain.

“This is not a ‘war on drugs’ – it is a defence of our brains. It is a fight for health and safety,” he wrote on his organisation’s website.

Family First is behind the ‘Say No to Dope‘ campaign, which aims to encourage families to vote ‘no’ in the upcoming referendum.

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