cannabis legalization

What NZ can learn from Canada’s cannabis experiment

New Zealand and Canada, despite being 13,000 kilometres apart, have a lot in common. Both countries are small in terms of population, punch above their weight economically, and are politically compassionate.

If New Zealand votes to legalise cannabis in 2020, that will be one more similarity that these two Commonwealth countries will share.

The draft policy positions for New Zealand’s cannabis referendum have been released, and for the most part, they mirror what Canada has done for recreational cannabis legalisation.

As a Canadian, I can tell you that legalising cannabis is the right thing to do. I can also say that New Zealand should avoid the regulatory approach that Canada took.

There are several mistakes that Canada made which New Zealand should steer clear of replicating.

The first major one is the failure to differentiate between THC products and non-intoxicating CBD products.

The draft policy positions state that any product produced from the cannabis plant is to be considered a cannabis product. This puts CBD products that are not intoxicating on par with THC products that are.

If New Zealand is to succeed where Canada has failed in legalising cannabis, it needs to create a more consumer-friendly regulatory regime, says Clement.

Following what Canada has done fails to regulate based on a continuum of risk, and runs against the New Zealand Government’s goal of harm reduction.

If the Government cares about minimising harm, it shouldn’t regulate non-intoxicating low-risk products the same way as intoxicating psychoactive ones. Harm reduction should mean making the least harmful products more available, not less available.

The second major mistake in the draft policy positions is the ban on all cannabis advertising. This proposal takes Canada’s very paternalistic advertising laws and exceeds them.

Complete marketing and advertising bans for legal cannabis products are misguided for two reasons. The first is that they are wildly inconsistent with how New Zealand treats other age-restricted goods, such as alcohol. Alcohol has a much higher risk profile when compared to cannabis, but does not have such strict advertising rules.

The second reason is that a complete ban fails to properly understand the role marketing has in moving consumers over from the black market. Modest forms of marketing allow for the legal market to attract existing consumers, who are buying cannabis illegally, into the legal framework.

Legal cannabis accounts for only about 20 per cent of all cannabis consumed in Canada, and that is in large part because the legal industry is handcuffed by regulations that stop them attracting consumers from the black market.

For purchases, and a personal carry limit, the proposed policy is that no New Zealander be allowed to purchase more than 14g of cannabis a day, and that no-one should exceed carrying more than 14g on their person in public. This is extreme when compared to Canada’s 30g limit, and inconsistent when compared to alcohol, which has no purchase or personal limit. It is reasonable to assume that the people criminalised by this arbitrary limit will be the same who were most harmed by prohibition: the marginalised.

Lastly are the policies on potency and taxation. The Government wants to establish a THC potency limit for cannabis products, which is understandable.

That said, whatever the limit is, the Government should avoid setting it too low. If the limit is excessively low, consumers are likely to smoke more to get their desired THC amount. That runs directly against the Government’s harm reduction approach. Secondly, if the limit is too low, it creates a clear signal for black-market actors that there is a niche to fill.

It is important to keep taxation modest, so that pricing can be competitive between the legal and illegal markets. Canada’s onerous excise, sales, and regional taxes can increase the price of legal cannabis by upwards of 29 per cent.

Poor tax policy in Canada is in large part why legal cannabis can be more than 50 per cent more expensive than black-market alternatives. Incentivising consumers to stay in the black market hurts consumer safety, and cuts the Government out of tax revenue entirely.

New Zealand is on the right path regarding cannabis legalisation, but it is important that regulators learn lessons from Canada’s process. For the sake of harm reduction, and stamping out the black market, it is vital that New Zealand has a consumer-friendly regulatory regime, one that specifically avoids, and not replicates, the mistakes made in Canada.

The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at 

The Unlikely Saving Grace of British Cannabis

The global crusade against cannabis is finally beginning to falter. As the attitudes of citizens and lawmakers alike begin to soften, the prospects of full legalisation have gone from a stoner’s pipe-dream (if you’ll pardon the pun) to very feasible in only a couple of years. With a fifth of the US legalising the plant for recreational use, alongside Canada and Uruguay, as well as numerous European states opting to decriminalise its use, progress has been quick and promising.

This is cause for optimism. Newly-legal markets in the US and Canada have already seen booms in market growth and innovation, not to mention the positive effects of decriminalisation on the harm felt by users. In decriminalising or outright legalising cannabis, legislators in such countries have helped foster an environment in which entrepreneurship and consumer well-being are welcomed and encouraged.

But there’s still work to do. In many countries, reluctance to embrace cannabis is preventing them from enjoying the benefits felt by more committed nations. Legislators are, all too often, unable or unwilling to properly ride the green wave, preferring instead to watch from the pier.

Italy, for example, is a victim of this lack of commitment. Vagueness surrounding the legality of Italian hemp and cannabis has made it far more difficult for entrepreneurs and investors to know where they stand, damaging their confidence and potential to create a flourishing market. As such, progress has been far slower in Italy (a country which once held the number two spot worldwide for industrial hemp production), than in countries which are more willing to commit.

In the UK, the story looks rather familiar. Despite the nearly four-decade long prohibition on medical cannabis being overturned by Home Secretary Sajid Javid last year, access to the drug is still hampered by heavy-handed restrictions and high costs. Patients will have to wade through a sea of bureaucracy and extortionate bills to have access to the drug legally, rendering any benefits this would have over continued use of the black market very hazy.

Growers and entrepreneurs, too, are deterred by legal ambiguity. With the British government reluctant to go any further than this somewhat-legal medicinal cannabis, the country is at risk of following Italy’s footsteps and missing out on what seems poised to be one of the most promising markets of our time.

There is a silver lining though. While patients and consumers may have their wellbeing overlooked by the government in Westminster, an unlikely source shows far more promise when it comes to protecting their welfare. Across the UK, members of the police are beginning to relax their approaches to cannabis offences.

Rather than prosecuting those caught with small amounts of the drug, many police officers are instead opting for warning and recommendations for how to quit. This has prompted accusations that the police are pushing for de facto decriminalisation outside of the realm of legislators.

In practice, however, such action might be the saving grace for British cannabis consumers. A more relaxed approach from police allows for a far safer environment, with police attention shifted to the darker, truly criminal side of the market, and away from nonviolent consumers.

Moreover, the controversy surrounding this ‘blind-eye’ approach could be just the thing needed to get the ball rolling on higher-up decriminalisation. Rather than shell out thousands for legal medicinal cannabis, or to risk buying on the black market, some are now pushing the cause of growing the plant at home for treatment of certain ailments.

While the British cannabis scene is still hampered by a stubborn government, changing attitudes from law enforcement could revitalise the debate on harm-reduction and smart drugs policy, all the while making life easier for consumers. It may be early days, but there’s hope that legislators will see sense in the police’s decision.

Légalisation du cannabis à des fins médicales ou récréatives

Suite à l’annonce en décembre 2018 du gouvernement luxembourgeois de procéder à légalisation de la vente et de la consommation du cannabis à des fins médicales ou récréatives, le LCGB a rencontré le groupe de travail international Consumer Choice Center (CCC) en date du 25 avril 2019.

En tant qu’organisation internationale en contact avec les législateurs au niveau mondial et entre autres, avec les institutions de l’Union européenne, le CCC a exposé au LCGB ses préoccupations quant à cette légalisation et a souligné l’importance que la vente et la consommation du cannabis fasse l’objet d’un encadrement légal bien réfléchi.

Sur base des études réalisées dans certains Etats américains et au Canada, les représentants du CCC, David CLEMENT, Yaël OSSOWSKI et Bill WIRTZ ont souligné la nécessité de mettre en place un cadre légal avec une politique de prix et de taxation raisonnable permettant de diminuer le recours au marché illégal de la vente du cannabis.

Le LCGB a profité de l’occasion pour se renseigner plus en détail sur la législation canadienne en afin de déterminer si un tel modèle est transposable au Luxembourg ou non et quels sont les impacts positifs ou négatifs pour les consommateurs. A noter qu’il faudrait d’abord tirer un premier bilan sur l’utilisation du cannabis médical, autorisée depuis début 2019 au Luxembourg et sur la consommation de chanvre, déjà possible dès à présent, avant de légiférer en la matière.

Read more here

Préparation à la légalisation du cannabis au Grand-Duché

La conférence concernant les recommandations accompagnant le processus de légalisation du cannabis au Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, donnée par le Consumer Choice Center (CCC) vient d’avoir lieu. Ce CCC défend les droits des consommateurs dans plus de 100 pays avec pour mission de les informer et les encourager à se mobiliser.

Beaucoup de questions se posent encore. – M.M.

Yaël Ossowski, journaliste et directeur adjoint du CCC, a insisté sur l’importance d’une transition intelligente de la légalisation, en s’inspirant de l’exemple des États-Unis et du Canada afin de tirer les leçons positives et négatives qu’un tel processus implique.

Read more here

Scroll to top