Clearing the Haze on New Zealand’s Cannabis Referendum

  • 15 Oct 2020

Know what you are voting for in the cannabis referendum

As we are only days away from the general election the Road Transport Forum (RTF) has made its final plea for people to be informed before stepping into the ballot box to vote on the cannabis referendum.

The concern about the Cannabis Legislation and Control Bill Exposure Draft for Referendum centres around the impacts on workplace health and safety and the costs and liabilities that go with increasing risk in the workplace.

At the recent "Clear the Haze" event held in Auckland, RTF CEO NIck Leggett and The Drug Detection Agency CEO Kirk Hardy and presented on the facts around the bill.

To view highlights of the breakfast event please click on this link.

RTF Nick Leggett’s key points:

  • The referendum is about legalising recreational cannabis use not medicinal
  • The proposed law we are voting on is silent on workplace health & safety
  • Other road users could be drug users – and a danger on the roads
  • The proposed law claims to: minimise harm, regulate the market, cut out the gangs, reduce use
  • Research in Canada, where cannabis is legal, suggests use will be normalised
  • A new law for roadside testing will be needed
  • Expect more fatal accidents caused by drug-drivers
  • Massive implications for drivers and employers that legalisation proponents have not considered – director liability, insurance costs, workforce training, compliance

TDDA Kirk Hardy’s key points:

  • Minimum purchase and possession age of 20
  • May purchase up to 14g a day (about 30 joints) or grow four plants per household
  • No marketing or advertising of cannabis products
  • Products must have harm minimisation messaging
  • May only be used in private homes or licensed premises
  • Sale through physical stores – expected to exceed fast food outlets. No online sales.
  • Control over potency of products being sold – 15%THC, which is quite high
  • Cannabis Regulatory Authority will be established to licence supply
  • Increased access = increased use = increased workplace risk
  • Employees who test positive have: 55% more industrial accidents; 85% more injuries and 75% greater absenteeism
  • Employer duties under Health & Safety at Work Act remain the same
  • Nothing changes in terms of needing a robust drugs and alcohol policy
  • Ability to test remains the same, as do the AS/NZS standards
  • Policies must outline the processes or actions employers will follow
  • Medicinal cannabis active ingredient is CBD. It has low levels of THC
  • Education and training of supervisors will be paramount
  • Intoxication = high immediately after consumption; impairment (short term or chronic) = after effects which may include poor sleep, mood swings, apathy
  • Factors that affect drug testing timelines: frequency of use, age, weight, height
  • Testing method must be fit for purpose. Testing methods include:
    • o Oral fluid – up to 6 hours
    • o Urine – 1-3 days casual user; 2-10 days regular user; 4-5 weeks chronic user
    • o Hair – only for regular users