Current polling data shows that the majority of New Zealand voters voted against legalizing cannabis.
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was re-elected in a landslide victory two weeks ago against her opponent, Judith Collins, suggesting that the country remains supportive of a progressive, left-leaning governance.
This gave hope to cannabis advocates ahead of the cannabis referendum, which was voted on prior to October 17th, as Jacinda Ardern had previously admitted to smoking cannabis and had said she would honour the results of the referendum.
However, early polling data shows that, unlike Ardern's victory, the cannabis referendum may not be a landslide victory, or even a victory at all. Current data has 53% of NZ voters voting against cannabis legalization, with just 46% of voters supporting the legalization of the plant.
The proposed cannabis law, if passed and enacted by the Government, would allow New Zealanders to buy 14 grams of cannabis per day, as well as growing up to two plants. Furthermore, according to reports by the research group Business and Research Ltd, (BERL), cannabis legalization could create up to 5,000 jobs for the country, while generating up to $1.5 billion worth of annual cannabis retail value, at $20 per gram.
Contrastingly, the ongoing euthanasia vote, which seeks to allow end-of-life patients and those that are terminally ill to choose to terminate their own lives, has garnered up to 70% of "yes" votes, suggesting that it is likely to pass.
As for the cannabis referendum, close to 170,000 "yes" votes are required to swing the referendum back into the favour of those who support legalization, and much of this difference hangs upon "special voters," who are comprised of individuals that were unable to cast an ordinary vote up until October 17th.
There are an estimated 480,000 special voters in New Zealand, and as ABC News has reported, NZ's special voters tend to lean somewhat more to the liberal side of the spectrum, suggesting that the referendum could go either way in the coming days. This lines up with prior polling data which has shown that support for the referendum has sat upon a knifes edge, often with the majority of voters oscillating between supporting the measure and voting against it.
The results of New Zealand's cannabis referendum are slated to be released on November 6th.
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