The Government has agreed on the shape of the referendum on personal cannabis use, and will make an announcement tomorrow.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Cabinet on Monday had made its decision on the referendum, including on the wording of the question.
She said some small drafting matters had to be finalised and Justice Minister Andrew Little would make an announcement on Tuesday.
Ardern would not be drawn on how exactly the referendum would be "binding" as the Government had previously promised.
The National Party told media on Sunday it had been leaked a cabinet paper on the issue featuring four different options under consideration.
Only one of these options involved passing a law ahead of the referendum that would be activated if a "yes" vote won - making only one option truly "binding".
This was despite Little promising a binding referendum last December.
The Green Party won the referendum on the legalisation of personal use of cannabis during coalition negotiations.
The referendum is due to be held alongside the 2020 election.
Polling on the issue has shown mixed results depending on how the question is worded.
A Curia poll commissioned by Family First found just 18 per cent of respondents supported "lifting restrictions" on cannabis for recreational use. This question did not present a simple yes/no option as a referendum is likely to do however, and was preceded by many questions that suggested big tobacco were pushing for legalisation of cannabis and that the drug was dangerous.
An earlier poll by the same company commissioned by the New Zealand Drug Foundation found that 65 per cent of people supported it being either legalised or decriminalised for personal use.
A legal age of 20 for purchasing cannabis for recreational use has been proposed in a Cabinet paper to be discussed by senior Government ministers tomorrow.
A paper from Justice Minister Andrew Little, which contains four options for a referendum at the 2020 election on the decriminalisation of cannabis for recreational use, has been leaked by the National Party today.
Among the proposals contained in the paper is that the age at which cannabis could be purchased legally for personal use should be 20.
That struck a balance between deterring young people from using it and preventing people buying cannabis from a black market, the paper said.
But Paula Bennett, National's drug law reform spokeswoman, said the Cabinet paper was clear that smoking cannabis under the age of 25 was bad for brain development.
"The paper acknowledges that regular marijuana use increases the risk of developing depression, psychosis and schizophrenia and is especially harmful to those under 25 years old. It also acknowledges that there is a one in six chance of young people becoming dependent. This would result in further demand for mental health services," Bennett said.
Ross Bell, executive director of the National Drug Foundation, said the legal age could be one of the main sticking points.
"There are good arguments either side of this, whether it should be 18 or 20. I guess they will try to find a consensus view.
"Good public health principles would be that you want to restrict access, so that would say that 20 could be the right age.
"On the flipside of that, anything under that age is going to be illicit. That would mean that anyone under the age of 20, just as they are now, would have to buy their cannabis from the black market, so they actually miss out on any of those good public health protections," Bell said.
He also pointed out that New Zealand's youth justice system was up to the age of 18 so those aged between 18 and 20 wouldn't benefit from the protections that offered either.
Little's office today referred media inquiries to the office of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern but it declined to comment on the leak.
Chloe Swarbrick, the Green Party's drug law reform spokeswoman, said in a tweet the leaked paper was out of date.
The referendum to legalise cannabis for personal use is part of the Labour-Greens confidence and supply agreement.
A poll in January showed 60 per cent of New Zealanders would vote to legalise cannabis for personal use in a referendum, 24 per cent would vote 'no', and 16 per cent had no opinion.
Almost two in three people surveyed supported a regulated market with licensed operators, while 39 per cent thought that a legal purchase age of 18 would be best.
The four options for the proposed 2020 referendum, according to the leaked paper, are:
Bennett claimed the Coalition Government had been unable to reach a consensus and the decision around which option they would choose had been holding up the process.
"From my reading of the Cabinet paper they are highly unlikely to go with option one but I believe it's option one that New Zealand First are pushing.
"The way the Cabinet paper is written, you can kind of tell that Andrew Little probably leans to option four, so it wouldn't surprise me if they land on option three."
She said National would be pushing hard for option four.
"We believe that legislation has got time and should go through the House because of the robustness of that against public submissions. It lets select committee really get into the detail of that proposed legislation and for that to be public and everybody to get that level of scrutiny."
Survey can be completed here: www.research.net/r/MCPatientSurvey2019
An unprecedented research project to discover how and why New Zealanders are using cannabis medicinally has been launched by Medical Cannabis Awareness New Zealand.
The study, New Zealand Medicinal Cannabis Use Research Survey 2019, is an online survey of patients using cannabis for medical reasons based on Australia's Cannabis As Medicine Survey and has been designed in conjunction with University of Otago researcher Dr Geoff Noller. It has been granted ethics approval and is MCANZ's first research project.
"During the Select Committee process last year, it became apparent that no one had any data on the trends in illicit medical use, such as the rate of criminalization or even a decent snapshot of what conditions were most common for illicit medical use," says MCANZ Coordinator Shane Le Brun.
"The only research relevant was a Ministry of Health study on cannabis use dating from 2012-2013, and frankly, medical use was only an afterthought in that research,"
"This research is a first for MCANZ and we're delighted to be working with Dr Noller. This first survey will give us a snapshot of current medical use in New Zealand and establish trends and areas that will need focus in the setting up of New Zealand's new medicinal cannabis regime." says Le Brun
"The intent is for this study to be conducted every 2 years, so the first study will serve as a baseline for the future, particularly to measure the impact of the Medical Cannabis Scheme," says Lead investigator Dr. Geoff Noller.
"The study covers topics ranging from perceived medical efficacy, knowledge of harm reduction such as vaping, and the impact of criminality on medical use," says Noller.
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 cannabis 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 cannabis.
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 cannabis.
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 cannabis 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.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has rejected complaints about an anti-cannabis billboard.
Family First New Zealand funded the billboard, which displayed on a building beside the Southern Motorway in Auckland.
It reads "You can't legalise marijuana and promote mental health," in large letters.
Underneath this, it reads "Don't legalise."
On Tuesday, the Complaints Board ruled the advertisement "did not contain anything indecent, exploitative or degrading, did not cause fear or distress and was socially responsible."
The ASA also ruled the billboard was unlikely to mislead consumers.
A previous billboard from Family First NZ received multiple complaints earlier this year.
This billboard was emblazoned with the slogan "Marijuana has a kids menu," with photographs of various cannabis paraphernalia, some of which appeared to look like lollies.
Seven complaints were received about this advert, with concern being the billboard was misleading, unsubstantiated and played on fear.
In February, ASA ruled the billboard did not contain anything indecent, or degrading. It also ruled the advert didn't cause fear or distress, and was socially responsible.
"Drug use is a major health issue, and that's why the role of the law is so important," said National Director of Family First NZ Bob McCoskrie in a statement on Tuesday.
"The public of New Zealand are not getting this information. Our billboards are designed to raise these inconvenient truths - and to provoke debate and discussion."
Family First NZ is an organization that seeks to promote "strong families, marriage and the value of life."
The organisation is vehemently against the legalisation of cannabis, saying it would be "foolish."
"The illegality of the drug and other drugs is vital as we fight the devastation its use causes on the users, their families and society in general," they said in a statement in February.
Family First NZ also led the opposition to the 2007 anti-smacking law, and the 2013 same sex marriage bill.
A new poll commissioned by conservative Christian lobbyist group Family First has found that less than 10% of New Zealanders want current restrictions to remain on Cannabis.
The independent poll, carried out earlier this month by Curia Market Research, surveyed 1000 randomly selected people reflective of overall voters.
In the latest poll, strongest support for keeping current restrictions came from National voters (11%), NZ First voters (4%) and Labour voters (3%). With Green Party voters only showing (1%).
New Zealand is set to hold a referendum at the 2020 election on legalising Cannabis.