This upcoming Saturday, voters in New Zealand will vote on a nationwide referendum that would legalize the possession and use of marijuana by people 20 years old and older. The world population has been anxiously awaiting for the New Zealand cannabis legalization vote. If passed, the vote could make New Zealand just the third nation worldwide to legalize cannabis in the federal level. The first two being Uruguay and Canada.
The Cannabis Legislation and Control Bill will require New Zealand Parliament to set regulations and rules for commercial sale and production of cannabis and products infused with cannabis. The measure would also allow adults at least 20 years old to buy up to 14 g of herbal cannabis each day. Home cultivation of around four marijuana plants per family would also be permitted under the ballot measure. Under current New Zealand law, the use of cannabis by adults is a crime punishable by up to 3 months in prison.
Last week, a group of New Zealand’s major public health professionals expressed their support for the New Zealand cannabis legalization vote on the referendum in an editorial printed in the New Zealand Medical Journal. Professor Michael Baker at the University of Otago, one of those health specialists who helped guide New Zealand’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, said that the country is a world leader in using “innovative and evidence-informed approaches” to addressing complex public health difficulties. Baker also stated, “It is time to take the identical fresh approach to cannabis law and put public health first.”
“Our prohibition position for cannabis is obsolete and does not work,” Baker added. “Supporting law reform is about reframing cannabis use as a health problem which opens up new, more effective methods of reducing effects caused by this drug.”
Public opinion polling on the referendum has shown a tight race for the New Zealand cannabis legalization vote, with one survey published last month showing that 49.5percent of respondents were in favor of legalization and 49.5percent were against, while 1 percent had no opinion.
Chief executive of Helius Theraputics biotechnology company, Paul Manning said, “The ‘yes’ vote has firmed up slightly, but it is still looking very close, with public opinion set to keep altering up until voting closes.” “Turn-out of 18- to 34-year-olds are also key. Young adults are the strongest supporters of the bill, but they also have the lowest intention and registration to vote.”
“Those wanting to find a yes vote needed to convince a fair number of individuals that their past prohibitionist views were incorrect,” he explained . “At the moment, it does not look like they’ve been able to do this and time really is running out.”
Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of the Labour Party, who currently serves as the chair of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, launched a publicity campaign calling on Republicans to support the legalization referendum.
Early voting for the October 17 election has already started. The vote was initially scheduled for September 19, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.