By Roland Sebestyén
Following prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s landslide win in the general election, preliminary results indicate that New Zealand voted against full cannabis legalisation. The results, though, could change over the next week.
In a historic referendum, preliminary numbers show that it was a close call, as the proposed “Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill” was rejected by 53-46%.
However, as the counting of the approximately 480,000 special votes is still in progress, New Zealand authorities won’t be able to confirm the results until 6 November.
According to the local electoral system, special votes are votes that, due to certain personal circumstances, were not taken at the polls or were not printed on the printed electoral roll.
It should be noted that even if the official numbers were to show a majority for full cannabis legalisation, the New Zealand parliament would technically be able to prevent the bill from becoming law.
It’s highly unlikely, though, that a massive Labour majority-led parliament would go against the referendum results.
The campaign’s most remarkable moment was when prime minister Jacinda Ardern, who deliberately avoided taking sides, admitted past cannabis use.
In case the results eventually change in favour of legalising the drug, the bill will go through the parliament process – this will include debates, committee hearings, and votes on first, second, and third readings.
The government announced if the bill became law, it would permit adults over the age of 20 to purchase, possess, and share up to 14 grams of cannabis per day, while households would be able to grow up to a maximum of four plants.
Furthermore, cannabis products would be available through licensed businesses with a THC limit set at 15%.
During the referendum campaign, experts claimed New Zealand could be the next big player on the global cannabis market, which will reportedly be worth around $73.6 billion (USD) by 2027.