National Party won't commit to enacting result of 2020 cannabis referendum
Source: https://www.stuff.co.nz/news/112518829/-

2019-05-08 20:53:21

National Party leader Simon Bridges said his party cannot commit to enacting the result of the 2020 cannabis referendum if elected as he has not seen the draft bill yet.

The Government announced on Tuesday morning the cannabis referendum would take the form of a simple "yes/no" question, with draft legislation released ahead of the vote.

The draft legislation would set out a plan to legalise personal cannabis use for those aged 20 or above, would allow sale at a licensed premise, and only allow consumption at licensed premises or private property. Some home growing would be allowed, and all advertising of cannabis products would be banned.

While the Government is describing it as "binding" whichever parties are in power following the 2020 election would need to actually pass the draft legislation through Parliament, if a "yes" vote won.

A truly binding referendum, which would "self-execute" and come into force automatically, was mooted and supported by the Greens, but could not reach Cabinet consensus.

The three parties in Government right now have committed to passing the legislation into law but Bridges said he would need a series of questions answered before he made a call on that.

"I would need to see the law and I would need to have answers to some basic questions like: What's the tax rate going to be? Will gangs be able legally to sell drugs in New Zealand? Will edible gummy bears be legal?" Bridges said.

"Of course I trust the public, it's the Government I don't trust."

Bridges would not directly commit to making a decision on whether his party would enact the bill even after seeing the draft law.

"Let's not deal with hypotheticals because we are not just there yet," Bridges said.

"As the Cabinet paper makes quite clear the public won't have the opportunity to go through [the draft bill] and improve it."

National Party drug law reform spokeswoman Paula Bennett raised similar objections.

"Where National stands on this? We cannot state that until we've seen the legislation and we know what New Zealanders are signing up to," Bennett said.

"We do believe in people have their voices heard."

NATIONAL WON'T COMMIT TO CROSS-PARTY GROUP

The Government has invited National to join a cross-party group on drug law reform.

Bennett has rejected invitations from Green spokeswoman on drug reform Chloe Swarbrick to join this group in the past.

She said today she would be happy to join if it was led by a minister.

"I just don't see how with all respect a junior member of Parliament that is not part of Government is the spokesperson on drug reform which could change the social fabric of this country," Bennett said.

"If they are serious about cross-party, put a cabinet minister in there and I will happily sit with them and any other member of Parliament," Bennett said.

A spokeswoman for Justice Minister Andrew Little confirmed he would be leading the group.

Bennett still did not commit to joining the group.

"We will want to see terms of reference and what the group will be doing before deciding," Bennett said.

Swarbrick told Stuff Bennett's refusal to work with her "speaks to the Nats bizarre obsession with power and status over efficacy and practicality."

Little said the draft legislation would be ready by either the end of 2019 or early 2020.

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