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Tourist turn-on: 100% pure New Zealand marijuana

October 23, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

New Zealand may be on the brink of a novel form of tourism, with its new leader pledging a referendum on legalising the recreational use of cannabis and polls indicating the overwhelming majority of Kiwis approve of decriminalising marijuana.

Prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern has pledged New Zealand will hold a referendum on legalising cannabis. Labour Party leader Ardern, named as Prime Minister on Thursday, will head a three-way coalition with the Greens and nationalist party New Zealand First (NZF).

Ardern has always said that possession of marijuana should not be a criminal offence. She says she wants to find what New Zealanders think on the issue.

An online poll conducted over the weekend by the Fairfax New Zealand online site Stuff.co.nz indicates that nearly 80% of New Zealanders agree with marijuana being either legalised or decriminalised.

Readers were asked whether the personal use of cannabis should be legalised. The results yesterday, with 29,000 votes taken, were as follows (with percentage of supporters in brackets):

  • Yes, it’s past time. (52%)
  • No, but I’m OK with it being decriminalised. (27%)
  • No, full stop. (21%)

Possession of small quantities of cannabis is legal in some US states and in coffee shops in the Netherlands. Colombia, South Africa and Spain also permit it, and in Uruguay, it is legal to grow, sell and consume marijuana.

In Colorado, cannabis tourism has become popular, with numerous tour companies offering visits to commercial marijuana growing operations, “recreational dispensaries” and more. One company, 420 Airport Pickup, advertises: “We pick up at the Denver international Airport and drive you to a retail marijuana store before dropping you off at your hotel. We are licensed, insured and registered with the Public Utilities Commission, the Better Business Bureau and the Chamber of Commerce.”

New Zealand could be on the brink of a similar cannabis-fuelled tourism bonanza, though no date has yet been fixed for the referendum, which could be held anytime in the next three years.

If New Zealand turns a difference in law into a tourist attraction, it wouldn’t be the first time. The country is already benefiting from a flow of gay Australian tourists who head there to get married – a union still illegal in Australia.

Meanwhile, in an interesting coincidence, New Zealand’s Ministry of Health has approved e-cigarettes, saying that “vaping” (as the process of using e-cigarettes is known) could help smokers give up and may prove a valuable weapon in the country’s campaign to become smokefree by 2025. By smokefree, campaigners are aiming at tobacco.

“Smokers who have tried other methods of quitting without success could be encouraged to try e-cigarettes to stop smoking,” the ministry said in a statement.

“Smokers switching to e-cigarettes are highly likely to reduce their health risks and for those around them.”

Travelling vapers need to be careful, however. Vaping is generally illegal in Australia, though the situation varies and penalties are usually light. In Victoria, for instance, it is not illegal to sell non-nicotine electronic cigarettes to anyone over 18. In Thailand, vapers face hefty fines or up to 10 years jail.

 

Written by Peter Needham in Paraparaumu, New Zealand

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