July 8, 2020

New Zealand: ‘yes’ vote holds small lead ahead of cannabis referendum

2min read

Opinion polls in New Zealand are showing a small lead for the ‘yes’ vote ahead of the referendum on adult-use cannabis legalisation to be held on September the 19th.

However, the coming weeks of the campaign are set to be decisive, as the small lead of the ‘yes’ side is well within the margins of error.

The vote will take place at the same time as the general election as well as a vote on euthanasia. Electors will be asked to support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill, a text drafted by the current administration. In 2017 the sitting Labour government passed legislation to create a medical cannabis scheme that came into effect in April.

The proposed adult-use bill would allow people aged 20 or over to;

  • buy up to 14 grams of cannabis per day from licensed outlets,
  • consume on private property or licensed areas,
  • grow a maximum of 4 plants per household, and
  • share up to 14 grams with other adults.

The project is inspired by harm reduction principles and sets very strict quality requirements to producers, as well as THC limits. Only flower, plants and seeds will be available in the first phase. Following in the footsteps of Canada, edibles and concentrates will need to meet additional requirements and be rolled-out later. Beverages, one of the fastest growing cannabis categories, will be left out of the scheme.

Most polls predict that sitting Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will be able to lead the government and the implementation of the bill in the next term, and her Labour Party may even hold an absolute majority, which would render a second coalition with the Green Party unnecessary.

While Prime Minister Ardern hasn’t expressed her support for a ‘yes’ vote, a report commissioned to its Chief Science Advisor clearly argues in favour of legalisation. However, should another candidate be able to form a wider parliamentarian coalition, it wouldn’t need to abide by the bill voted in the referendum. Ultimately, the bill needs to be voted by Parliament and implemented by the Cabinet, even after winning the referendum.

Please note: Global help wanted for New Zealand cannabis campaign

On 19 September 2020 New Zealand will be the first country in the world to ask voters to choose whether to legalise cannabis at a referendum and the “vote yes” is calling for international donations to help win. The New Zealand Drug Foundation is leading the campaign for YES on the basis that legal regulation is the best way to protect public health and wellbeing, and to properly tackle the harms that can come from cannabis, especially to young people.

The “Vote Yes On Our Terms” campaign, targeted at undecided voters, highlights the key controls of the draft legalization bill, as well as the significant benefits that legalization can bring.

Donations, which can be anonymous, can be made to: nzdrug.org/donate

New Zealand: ‘yes’ vote holds small lead ahead of cannabis referendum

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