New Zealanders have rejected legalizing cannabis by a 53 percent to 46 percent margin, according to preliminary results by the nation’s Electoral Commission. However, the result could change once special votes are counted as the outcome is based on 83 percent of counted votes.
Green Party lawmaker Chloe Swarbrick told Global News that the nation had “record numbers of special votes” and that she remains optimistic the result could flip as those ballots are counted.
Conservative lawmaker Nick Smith, from National Party, called the initial results “a victory for common sense.”
“New Zealanders have rightly concluded that legalizing recreational cannabis would normalize it, make it more available, increase its use and cause more harm.” – Smith to Global News
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed after the results were released that she had voted in favor of the reforms.
The proposal, a non-binding vote which would have to have been implemented by the legislature if approved, would have allowed individuals 20-and-older to purchase up to 14 grams daily and grow two plants. The proposal included social use provisions, allowing for so-called cannabis cafés.
Polling for the legalization measure had been trending toward a ‘no’ vote in the lead-up to the referendum. A Horizon Poll in September found an even 49.5 percent split for the policy change – the firm’s polls had previously found consistent support for legalization going back to November 2019. Meanwhile, 1 News/Colmar Brunton polling never found support above 50 percent and in a poll released October 1 found 35 percent support with 53 percent opposed.