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A Missed Opportunity In New Zealand

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2020 is an election year in various countries across the globe, including in New Zealand. This year’s election in New Zealand was of particular interest to cannabis observers due to the fact that there was a cannabis legalization measure on the ballot.

Only two countries have legalized cannabis for adult use so far, Uruguay and Canada, and both of them legalized via the legislative process versus letting voters decide the issue directly.

The vote, which was referred to voters by New Zealand lawmakers, was originally scheduled to occur in September, however, due to a spike in Covid cases the election was postponed until October 17th.

In New Zealand, the results for referendum measures take longer to release to the public versus results for candidate races. With that in mind, cannabis enthusiasts had to wait a couple of weeks before learning the outcome of the vote in New Zealand.

Unfortunately, when the results were finally released they were not favorable. Per The New York Times:

New Zealand will join a small number of countries that have legalized euthanasia after its citizens voted overwhelmingly in favor of it in a referendum this month.

A second question on the ballot during the Oct. 17 general election — on legalizing recreational marijuana use — was set to fail, according to preliminary results released on Friday.

Proponents of the cannabis measure expressed frustration with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who had declined to take a position on legalization before the election and revealed only on Friday that she had voted in support of it.

Cannabis activists across the globe were hopeful that New Zealand would become the third country to legalize cannabis for adult use, but that will apparently have to wait. It’s unclear if/when New Zealand will try to vote on legalization again.

The focus of the international cannabis community will now likely move back to Mexico, where lawmakers are working to pass a legalization measure before the end of the year to fully implement a previous Supreme Court decision which ruled that Mexico’s cannabis prohibition policy was unconstitutional.

New Zealand