New Zealand has stubbed out recreation marijuana by voting down a referendum that would have legalised cannabis, preliminary results show.
Early results show 53.1 per cent of Kiwis were against making the drug legal, with 46.1 per cent in support.
A separate referendum was also held on assisted dying, with the End of Live Choice Bill backed overwhelmingly by the public.
A spokesperson for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed she voted ‘Yes’ to euthanasia changes and the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill which would have enabled anyone over the age of 20 to buy 14 grams of cannabis from licensed outlets per day.
A spokesperson for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed she voted yes to both of the bills
New Zealand has voted against legalising cannabis in a referendum, preliminary results show
The National Organisation for Reform of Marijuana Laws, NORML, said the early results were hard to swallow.
‘I think it would be fair to say there is some bitter disappointment,’ NORML president Chris Fowlie said.
But the group said, the closeness of contest will hopefully mean that police and society’s tolerance for the drug will increase.
The final result of the cannabis referendum will not be officially be revealed until November 6 when an additional 480,000 special votes are added to the tally.
Special votes which include prisoners on remand, those living overseas and return travellers staying in hotel quarantine, are expected to make up about 17 per cent of the total votes.
Although there is still a possibility this could sway the final outcome, the chances remain slim.
A voter casts her vote at a polling station during the New Zealand General Election in Auckland, New Zealand, on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020
Justice Minister Andrew Little released a statement earlier today acknowledging the two bills and the direction the New Zealand government would take in the wake of the non-binding vote.
‘The End of Life Choice Act has gone through the parliamentary process and has been given Royal Assent, so it will come into effect 12 months from the final results – on 6 November 2021,’ he said.
‘Assisted dying remains illegal in New Zealand until 6 November 2021. The Act will be administered by the Ministry of Health.
‘The Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill will not be introduced as legislation by the Labour Government this term.
‘Subject to the release of the final results on November 6, the incoming government will respect the result of both referendums. This will mean that recreational cannabis use will remain illegal in New Zealand.’
Medicinal cannabis entrepreneur Paul Manning said the legalisation of recreational cannabis was a missed opportunity in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that could have brought in billions to the local economy.
Medicinal cannabis entrepreneur Paul Manning said the legalisation of recreational cannabis was a missed opportunity (pictured, a legal Marijuana growing operation in the US)
‘There was a clear economic opportunity associated with the cannabis legalisation and control bill and with it defeated that opportunity has been lost for now,’ Mr Manning told NZ Stuff.
‘Almost half of New Zealand is in support of wider cannabis reform so you have to wonder, will there be another bill to come off the back of this in the not-too-distant future?’
While the debate on cannabis was tight, Kiwis overwhelmingly supported reforms around voluntary assisted dying 62.2 per cent to 33.8 per cent.
New Zealand is now just the seventh nation in the world to legislate euthanasia along with the Netherlands, Belgium, Colombia, Luxembourg, Australia (Victoria and Western Australia) and Canada.
The laws will soon allow terminally ill adults with less than six months to live to request assisted dying and end their suffering.
‘This vote was about compassion and choice. We’re delighted New Zealand came together and voted for choice for their loved ones and for themselves,’ Yes for Compassion Executive Director Dr Jessica Young said.
The End of Live Choice Bill will soon allow terminally ill adults with less than six months to live to request assisted dying and end their suffering (stock image)
‘Our nation is admired worldwide as a liberal democracy and the first to give women the vote in 1893. Today’s historic victory continues that tradition, providing the choice of an assisted death to terminally ill Kiwis who want and need it – saving a great deal of unnecessary suffering for individuals and their loved ones.
‘It’s an honour to celebrate with individuals who so bravely shared their personal stories during this campaign. ‘