New Zealand to hold 'referendum' on legal pot

2018-12-18 13:24

New Zealand will hold a referendum on legalising recreational marijuana when the South Pacific nation votes in its next general election in 2020, the government announced on Tuesday.

The ballot was among the demands the Green Party made during talks to join Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's progressive coalition government after the 2017 election.

Justice Minister Andrew Little said the government had agreed to the timetable, and the result of the referendum would be binding.

"It will be held at the 2020 general election," he told reporters, adding "there is a bit of detail still to work through".

Ardern's government has already moved to legalise medicinal cannabis, with legislation on the issue working its way through parliament.

An opinion poll last year found 65% of New Zealanders also supported legalising the drug for recreational use.

Pro-reform campaign group New Zealand Drug Foundation welcomed the vote, with its chief Ross Bell saying the current approach to regulating marijuana was outdated and it was time for a change.

"Cannabis is New Zealand's most common illegal drug, 50% of the country have tried it," he said.

"We're still trying to address the problem through a law enforcement approach. We're still criminalising people and not providing help to people who have a cannabis dependency."

The conservative National Party opposition leader Simon Bridges said he would be voting against legalisation and accused the government of trying to deflect voters' attention from issues such as the economy and the rising cost of living.

"I'm pretty cynical that you've got a government here that wants to distract from the core issues of a general election," he said.

Ardern strongly supported legalising medical pot but has not revealed her personal views on recreational marijuana, saying only she does not believe cannabis users should be jailed.

The debate in New Zealand comes as New York governor Andrew Cuomo called on Monday for the drug to be made legal for recreational use in his state, including America's most populous city.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    jacinda ardern  |  new zealand  |  marijuana  |  cannabis
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.