2020 could be the year New Zealand becomes a greener country. Alongside the general election that is due to take place in 2020, New Zealanders will vote in a referendum that will decide whether or not cannabis should be legal for recreational use. The news comes a week after lawmakers gave medical cannabis the green light.
Jacinda Arderns Labour Party entered a coalition government supported by the Greens and New Zealand First on a cross-party promise that they would hold several concessions on tackling climate change, treating drugs as a health issue and a referendum on legalizing cannabis.
The coalition of the three parties brought an end to the nine-year rule of the conservative National Party.
Justice Minister Andrew Little stated that the referendum would be on the ballot paper during the next general election set to be held in 2020. Mr Little told reporters that “the agreement is that it will be binding”. Until now, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had avoided committing to a non-binding agreement.
The Green Party have welcomed the referendum decision. Green Party MP, spokesperson and committed drug reform advocate, Chloe Swarbrick spoke in a statement “We’ve had countless opinion polls for decades now, confirming New Zealanders are positively well ahead of political action of cannabis law reform”. Ms Swarbrick continues to add “This binding referendum presents an opportunity to have the will of the people trigger meaningful legislative change”
In a parliamentary speech, the Green MP extended her thanks to all of the staunch campaigners and advocates of cannabis reform, to her colleagues especially those who came long before she did. She ends her passionate speech with “we are incredibly proud to be progressing this legislation, Kia Ora”
However, National Party leader Simon Bridges called the vote a cynical vote to distract voters from other issues around the national election. And, that legislating cannabis would normalise drug use.
According to the NZ Drug Foundation, cannabis is the most commonly used illicit substance in New Zealand.
History In The Mag
A Yes vote would mean New Zealand is the first Asia Pacific country to allow recreational use of marijuana.
We at Leaf Science welcome this historic news and echo Green MP Chloe Swarbricks sentiments. This is a life-changing referendum that will change peoples lives.
Onward to a cleaner, greener and safer New Zealand, friends. Ka pai!