The government of New Zealand will hold a referendum of the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana during the 2020 general elections.
New Zealand will hold a referendum on the legalization of the recreational use of cannabis during the next general election in 2020.
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The referendum’s decision will be binding.
The proposed referendum represents a step closer to reaching an alternative to the criminalization of marijuana use. For the Green Party, a favorable vote would promote their platform based on a commitment to treat drug use and addiction as a health issue, according to The Guardian.
“Cannabis is New Zealand’s most common illegal drug, 50 percent of the country have tried it ... We’re still trying to address the problem through a law enforcement approach. We’re still criminalizing people and not providing help to people who have a cannabis dependency,” Ross Bell, from the New Zealand Drug Foundation.
The ballot was put in place due to the demands of the Green Party. The Party held talks with Prime Minister Jacinda Adern´s progressive coalition government in the post-2017 election.
Progressive politicians supporting recreational use believe the referendum will have the added bonus of maximizing voter turnout for the general election since voting is not compulsory in New Zealand.
Marijuana use for medicinal purposes has already been legalized.
For his part, the National Party Leader, Simon Bridges, is concerned that ¨normalization” of the use of the drug would ensue if legalization is approved.
Bridges is likely representing a minority within society. A 2017 national poll revealed that 65 percent of New Zealanders agree with legalizing cannabis for recreational purposes.
In the United States, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is also calling for the legalization of cannabis for recreational use.