New Zealand Rejects Cannabis Legalization

New Zealand's cannabis referendum has been conclusively rejected, as the special votes have finally been counted.

New Zealand has officially rejected the efforts to legalize cannabis for adult-use recreational purposes, as the special votes put the referendum at 48.4% voting "yes", and 50.7% voting "no."

The votes did indeed tighten up since the preliminary results were released, which sat at 53% of NZ voters voting against cannabis legalization, and 46% of voters supporting the legalization of the plant.


However, contrary to the hopes of cannabis advocates and enthusiasts around the world, New Zealand won't be legalizing the plant this year. This news ran somewhat counter to the recent re-election of Jacinda Ardern, who is considered by many to be the most progressive politician in the world.

Moreover, while Ardern didn't publicly voice her stance on the cannabis referendum, she did admit to having previously smoked cannabis during her Presidential debates, which suggested that her voters weren't opposed to cannabis use.

However, the results did reflect the ongoing polling data in the lead-up to the referendum, which always showed that it would be a tight race, often sitting upon a knifes edge of yes and no voters.

It is certainly a heavy blow for those hoping to see cannabis legal in New Zealand, particularly when one considers the economic benefits that would have been brought to the country had cannabis been legalized.

The proposed model for the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill could have added up to 5000 new jobs in the legal cannabis sector, with a forecasted GST income of $335 million.

Many hoped that New Zealand's referendum, had it been passed, would spark a conversation throughout the broader Oceania region, potentially prompting legislative change here in Australia too.

Despite this, the United States had a big week for cannabis legalization throughout, with Montana, New Jersey, South DakotaArizona, and Mississipi all receiving a majority of votes in favour to of either recreational or medicinal marijuana legalization. Additionally, even psilocybin mushrooms were even legalized for therapeutic purposes in Oregon on the same day.

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Louis O'Neill
Louis O'Neill

Louis is a writer based in Sydney with a focus on social and political issues. Having interviewed local politicians and entrepreneurs, Louis now focuses on cannabis culture, legislation & reform.

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