Government planning to reveal cannabis referendum details next week, 1 NEWS understands

The Government is preparing to reveal the details of the highly anticipated cannabis legalisation referendum, 1 NEWS understands. 

Sources told 1 NEWS the Justice Minister Andrew Little intends to take a paper to Cabinet next week detailing how the referendum will be run. 

Holding a referendum on legalising the personal use of marijuana was part the Green Party's confidence and supply agreement with the Labour Party.

New Zealand is set to hold a referendum at the 2020 election on legalising marijuana .

While the specifics are not yet known, 1 NEWS understands the referendum will be broadly in-line with what the Green Party campaigned on at the 2017 election. 

It campaigned on legalising possession and cultivation, or growing of plants, for personal use of cannabis and introducing a legal age limit for personal use.

The National Party told 1 NEWS this evening it believes the proposed age restriction would be set at 20-years-old. 

It is also understood the Government will not pass legislation before the referendum – but will instead prepare a Bill that could be introduced to Parliament afterwards if people do vote to legalise marijuana.  

And how likely is that?

In the 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll in October, 46 per cent of Kiwis were in favour of legalisation and 41 per cent were against.  The rest were unsure.  

It has taken the Government 18 months to get to this point and it is understood that while Labour, NZ First and the Greens started at quite different positions on cannabis the issues are now said to be resolved.

The parties are in agreement that drug use should be treated as a health issue and legalising marijuana would take it out of the hands of criminal gangs and want to improve restrictions around children accessing cannabis.  

National, however is questioning whether New Zealand should slow down and observe the outcome of cannabis legalisation in other countries such as Canada.