A coalition of two political parties in New Zealand has come together on a referendum that could legalize marijuana in the Asia Pacific nation.
Jacinda Ardern is New Zealand’s incoming Prime Minister. Today, her Labour Party officially agreed with a recent proposal from the Green Party to hold a referendum which, depending on the outcome, could legalize cannabis for personal use.
“We agreed that what we are doing now simply isn’t working,” said Prime Minister-Designate today. “We have said yes to having that referendum.”
The vote on legal cannabis for adults in New Zealand is expected to happen by the 2020 general election.
In late 2016, New Zealand’s Minister of Justice revealed that arrest rates for marijuana possession fell by roughly 60 percent over a six-year period. This decrease was largely the result of a police-diversion program set up for low-level marijuana offenses.
In June 2017, Health Minister Peter Dunne announced that restrictions on CBD had been removed. This effectively gave New Zealand doctors permission to prescribe the medicine for whatever condition they felt was appropriate. Also, in June, a private member’s bill for medical cannabis was chosen for future debate in Parliament.
Most recently, the New Zealand Drug Foundation announced the results of a survey which polled voters for their opinion on drug reform. The majority of respondents, 65 percent, supported either the decriminalization or legalization of cannabis.
If the referendum is successful, New Zealand will be the first Asian-Pacific country to legalize marijuana.