Many things could change as New Zealand transitions into the leadership of a new incoming government, including the country’s stance on cannabis. After a close election in September, Jacinda Arden of the Labour Party was confirmed as the nation’s newest prime minister. This changes the power in New Zealand from the previous nine years of conservative rule.
One thing that stands to change is the nation’s position on legalizing marijuana. New Zealand could be the first country to legalize cannabis by voter referendum. They could be the first country in the world to legalize nationwide if the legislation makes the ballot box by 2020.
The 37 year old Ardern personally supports medical cannabis and says that she doesn’t “think people should be locked in prison” for marijuana but that achieving that outcome doesn’t necessarily “require decriminalization.”
Ardern said that the country’s current policy, which is “a justice-based approach to cannabis in this country, isn’t working. We can do better.”
The new leader of the nation indicated that she is leaning toward giving the voters the power to directly legalize marijuana themselves. She also stated that she would be “seeking advice” as to when the exact timing of the marijuana referendum would begin.
Other countries are also making similar movements to legalizing marijuana. Uruguay has already legalized marijuana and Canada is working to end prohibition by the end of next summer. However, in both these nations, the changes in rules were a result of actions of elected officials.
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