Chloe Swarbrick, Green MP has cleared the air off National’s concerns regarding CBD infused edibles, suggesting that it is most likely that all types of edibles will be banned soon. National’s drug law reform spokesperson Paula Bennett said that the infused edibles could be dressed up so that they appear fancy and appealing to young people, especially kids which could lead to accidental use.
Swarbrick didn’t confirm on whether cannabis infused gummy bears would be banned or not, however, she said there was consensus among the Greens, Labour and New Zealand First protecting children and displacing the black market were their top priorities.
“In line with all of those things, it’s pretty evident that we will be following what other jurisdictions have done in terms of banning or ensuring that we won’t have gummy bears.”
Swarbrick disagrees with the lenient way of the Government’s “health-based approach” to drug reform. She said there’s no way they would be enabling products that could be argued as targeted towards children. Also, cannabis infused products shouldn’t be glorified to gain traction because there will be public education campaigns about the harms.
Bennett compared cannabis infused lollies to alcohol-soaked lollies saying that one could definitely not get absolutely drunk off a couple of vodka-soaked lollies but can definitely be wasted by consuming a few concentrated gummy bears infused with cannabis.
Swarbrick admitted about the concerns raised by Bennett and said proper actions would be taken to ensure a safe and healthy environment for children. Early last year, it was reported in New Mexico that a child suffered a reaction after mistaking her parent’s medical marijuana gummies for her regular lollies and sharing them at school. Swarbrick said that most countries or states that have moved towards legalization and regulation of cannabis have already banned products that might attract kids or seem as marketing to the younger generation in any manner.
“Interestingly enough, the often raved-about gummy bears are actually now illegal pretty much everywhere where they have a regulated market.”
Alaska, a state in the U.S. where cannabis is legal, manufactures are prohibited to prepare any CBD infused product with potency levels exceeding 5mg of active THC (the psychoactive element found in cannabis plants) per serving. Also, no edible marijuana products can have printed images in Alaska including cartoon characters, which specifically target individuals under the age of 21- one year above the legal age proposed for New Zealand.
New Zealand will be holding a referendum to discuss cannabis legalization in 2020, the subject would be voted upon by the members of the committee. It will then be up to the next elected Parliament to enact these laws. The referendum would talk about regulatory models and the use of cannabis infused products.
Canada, which legalized cannabis in October has also proposed regulations limiting the amount of THC that can be incorporated in individual packages or servings. Also, under the proposed regulations, flavours that might appeal to the youth would be banned on packaging to ensure the safety of kids. Swarbrick, 24, addressed comments made by Bennett made about her role as spokesperson for drug law reform.
Bennett, 50 criticized the Government for not taking cannabis legalization seriously by throwing such an important topic to a very junior member of the Parliament. She was questioned whether it was the age that bothered her but she denied and said that the problem was she wanted a Cabinet minister who has the access to all the evidence and information. She wants to be sitting next to them when making these really important decisions.
Swarbrick told Newshub that it appears fascinating to her how the National Party’s obsession with power and status over any reform or policy can really push them in getting stuff done at the earliest. The Government’s legalization on medicinal cannabis is expected to be released late this year or early next year 2020. New Zealanders will vote on the topic and discuss about how cannabis could be introduced in the market without posing any harm to consumers.
Till then, the discussion will be circulated amongst lawmakers and stakeholders on how to effectively bring cannabis to the consumer market.