Uruguay led the way.
That’s not something you hear every day.
But it’s been five years now since But for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, signed legislation to legalise recreational cannabis in his country. Making it the first nation to do so.
Numerous US states and Canada have since followed the small South American nation’s lead.
Many other nations, Australia included, have legalised the medicinal use of marijuana. Yet its recreational use is still criminal, depriving their governments of millions and even billions of dollars in tax revenue. Instead, this money fuels the black-market, enriching criminals.
Now New Zealand looks like it could be the next country to turn its back on the failed prohibition of cannabis and legalise its recreational use.
NZ Cannabis Referendum scheduled for 2020
As AAP reports, Justice Minister Andrew Little told reporters on Tuesday morning that New Zealand will hold a referendum regarding the recreational use of cannabis, alongside their next general election in 2020.
While the actual wording of the referendum is yet to be discussed publicly, it has been said that the government are bound to fulfil the result, whichever way it falls.
But for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the wording is everything. AAP reports she refuses to state her lean, because it’s all dependent on the phrasing of the question posed in the plebiscite.
Such a plebiscite was a crux aspect of a deal between the Labour Party and the Green Party, to ensure the Green Party backed Labour in forming a government after the 2017 election.
And it seems like a good deal to make, with a 2018 survey conducted by the Drug Foundation showing that two thirds of people support cannabis decriminalisation in New Zealand.
And campaign manager for the Cannabis Referendum Coalition, Sandra Murray recently stated confidently:
‘We are ready. We are excited to be having the debate. We are focusing on supporting local areas to have an informed discussion about how reform will benefit their community, as well as how potential problems will be avoided.’
So it was going to happen, it was just a matter of figuring out the timing and conditions. And what better timing than right in sequence with the next general election?
Referendum–election pairing a smart approach for ample results
The Cannabis Referendum Coalition see the scheduling of the vote in line with the election a likely way to boost turnout.
In the 2017 Global Drug Survey, as AAP also reports, almost 40% of Kiwis admitted they had used marijuana in the past year. It’s undoubtedly a common drug in the country.
As such, the same concept may work in reverse as well, boosting interest amongst the public regarding the federal election.
In fact, the referendum announcement follows the passing of a bill by Kiwi MPs last week, which allowed greater access for medicinal cannabis and initiated the implantation of a licensing scheme for commercial growing of the plant.
Supporters of recreational marijuana also see the potential lucrative nature of this developing industry. Start-up companies are trying to jump on the cannabis train early, confident it will give a long-awaited boom in the struggling regional New Zealand economy.
They also see the opportunities for the country’s currently experienced cultivators if their talents can be utilised in a newly-legalised sector of the market.
It’s essentially all set up, just waiting for the official OK.
Actually, there are even some official authorities whom are already giving the OK, even before the referendum votes in favour of the legalisation.
Yes, police have recently been ordered to refrain from charging individuals caught solely possessing any drugs. This is to help ease the nation into a shift towards a health-based outlook on cannabis.
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