The New Zealand government has been urged to outlaw commercial edibles sales if voters give recreational cannabis use the green light at next year’s referendum.

When Kiwis go to the polls next year they will select their next prime minister and decide whether or not to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. It will place cannabis at the heart of the general election campaign and the subject should enjoy widespread coverage across New Zealand in the months ahead.

Voters have long been expected to give their approval to adult-use cannabis, following in the footsteps of Canada and Uruguay. A 2019 poll suggested that 60% will vote yes, whereas 24% oppose recreational cannabis legalization and 16% are undecided.

A more recent poll challenged that suggestion, but the country is nevertheless gearing up for a legal marijuana industry, and the Ministry of Justice has been advising the government on the framework it should adopt. NewsHub NZ used the Official Information Act to obtain an MoJ document that advises the government to permit Kiwis to make their own edibles at home, but prohibit the commercial sale of them.

“We do not recommend that these products are manufactured commercially, given how appealing they are to new users,” the document reads. “These products are often much more appealing to new and young users and could, therefore, increase cannabis use.”

The concern is that edibles are sweeter, easier to consume, and appeal to minors.

However, the government has thus far ignored the advice and the draft framework includes legalizing the sale of edibles. They are hugely popular in markets like California and Colorado, while Canada expects to gain a huge boost to its adult-use industry when edibles and other concentrates hit shelves at the tail end of 2019.

The latest possible date for the election in New Zealand is Nov. 21, 2020.

Around 300,000 New Zealanders identify as daily marijuana users and it is a relatively wealthy country, so there is significant potential for global cannabis producers to thrive there. A nationwide search is also underway among domestic growers for unique strains.

If legalized, anyone aged 20 or above could buy recreational cannabis as soon as a regulated industry takes shape.

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