CHOISE is designed to win New Zealand’s cannabis referendum.

CHOISE is the Cannabis & Hemp Opportunity, Investment & Social Equity model. CHOISE is designed to win New Zealand's 2020 cannabis referendum.
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CHOISE is the Cannabis & Hemp Opportunity, Investment & Social Equity model. CHOISE is designed to win the 2020 cannabis referendum.

The Cannabis Hemp Opportunity, Investment and Social Equity model (CHOISE) is an ongoing project that promotes policy settings intended to have the best chance of winning the 2020 cannabis referendum, and provide the greatest improvement to social and economic wellbeing in New Zealand.

The CHOISE model allows hemp to be part of the medical and adult-use cannabis supply chains, driving down costs and putting NZ on a level playing field with most countries; it creates opportunity by providing economic benefits and removing barriers to going legal; it directs investment – generated from sales levies – into local communities and services that are most needed; and CHOISE promotes social equity by using a points-based licencing system to achieve positive outcomes such as retaining economic benefits onshore, supporting ethical local businesses, and righting previous wrongs.

Whatever model is adopted for the referendum, it must strike a balance between the needs of consumers and creating a functional market, with the concerns of those who currently oppose law reform, so that it will actually pass. CHOISE is designed to be broadly supported, and win the 2020 cannabis referendum. CHOISE builds on what the Government has announced so far, and the policy recently issued by the NZ Drug Foundation. CHOISE encourages social enterprises over “Big Business”, and allows social clubs not flashy storefronts. CHOISE fosters good behaviour, has sensible controls which put safety first and heed the concerns of non-consumers, and provides specific details other models lack. As an ongoing project, the CHOISE model will be further refined in response to feedback, advice and events as they unfold.

Discover the CHOISE model, designed to win New Zealand’s 2020 cannabis referendum:

Current version:

V0.23 updated October 2019


At the 2020 general election the government will hold a referendum making cannabis legal. A simple Yes/No question will be based on a draft piece of legislation that will include: a minimum age of 20 to use and purchase recreational cannabis; regulations and commercial supply controls; limited homegrowing options; a public education programme; and stakeholder engagement. It is unclear how retail stores would be regulated, even though they may be the most controversial aspect.

The model presented here considers likely flashpoints and issues that have featured prominently in media coverage and civil society discourse. It builds social equity into the reforms, and uses a points-based licencing system to encourage good market behaviour, achieve social outcomes, while remaining competitive with the illicit market.

Licensed premises would be run as social retail enterprises, or as private social clubs. A levy on cannabis sales would fund an expansion in drug education, treatment and research, support regional development, and a pool for local grants to be administered by the Lotteries Grants Board. The levy will also fund the collation and dissemination of data about the effect of the new law. A mandated timetable would see the new law take effect within 6 months of the referendum, and Social Retail operational 12 months later.


Print or download the CHOISE model (latest version 0.23):

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