Referendum on recreational cannabis use confirmed

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The referendum on recreational cannabis use will be binding, the government says.
Justice Minister Andrew Little has confirmed that the referendum on recreational cannabis use will be at the 2020 election and will be binding.

He said the question to be asked still needed to be worked out.

A referendum on recreational cannabis use on or before the 2020 election is part of the Labour and Greens confidence and supply agreement.

Speaking to media this morning, Little said this morning that Cabinet had agreed the referendum would be held in the 2020 election and it would be binding.

"There is a bit of detail still to work through, but we are telling the electoral commission that's when it's going to be."

He said Cabinet made the decision it would not use a citizens assembly process for policy development.

This was largely because the decision was quite late in the process, Little said.

"So we won't be using that mechanism in terms of public engagement, we will have other ways of getting the public debate going."

Asked about a binding referendum on euthanasia, Little said that was a matter for Act Leader David Seymour and the select committee that is considering the euthanasia bill.

Seymour has a members bill on euthanasia currently going through the house.

"David has told me that he fully expects that there will be a referendum clause in that bill when it gets reported back."

Little said the Government was expecting there to be a referendum question on Seymour's legislation as well.

He said the Government had yet to make a decision on a referendum on changes to the MMP system of representation. More discussion was needed on that. He added that that was not an area which needed a lot of policy development as it had all been done.

"It is just a question of judging do we want a third referendum question and the Coalition partners and confidence and supply partners are still having a discussion about that."

Asked what the question would be for the cannabis referendum, Little said that was a detail that needed to be worked out.

"We know when it will be, we have a commitment that it will be binding and now it is just a question on filling in the detail from there."

He said the electoral commission had put together a budget bid for next year.

Now the decision to have a referendum on cannabis use had been made, that bid would now be processed with other budget bids.

But he said because of budget confidentiality, nothing could be detailed on its budget until May, when the 2019 budget is released.

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