The final results of the recent referendum held during New Zealand’s election in the past month have been released. And the “No” campaign seem to have achieved their mission.
After a disappointing report from the Preliminary Results released last week, with an even higher 53.1% of residents voting against legalisation, the special votes have unfortunately just missed out on claiming majority.
Over the past week, the special votes – votes from those who enrolled on election day or cast their ballots from overseas – were counted and tallied.
A total of 1,406,973 (48.4%) backed cannabis legalisation in the country. It was not enough, with 1,474,635 (50.7%) believing cannabis is better served supplying New Zealand’s demand through the black market. Reasoning we cannot understand.
Even if those who didn’t clearly indicate their decision – the informal votes – all supported introducing the bill , it still wouldn’t have been enough to claim victory. With just 26,463 (0.9%) deemed ineligible for count.
A frustrating result, but that doesn’t mean the fight for legalisation is over. Far from it. Plenty believe, and are continuing their battle in legalising the plant.
In the end, despite polls showing the majority of Kiwis wanted legal cannabis earlier in the year, the “Say Nope To Dope” campaign’s tactics of fear-mongering and manipulation and the government’s lack of education around the benefits of legalisation, swayed voters against cannabis when the votes truly mattered.
On the other side of the world, the US election brought a wave of cannabis legalisation with it. Four states, including Arizona and New Jersey, legalised the recreational use of cannabis for adults in the past week. Maybe being closer to legalised states had a larger influence on how they voted, compared to the isolation they’re experiencing in New Zealand.
Whatever the case may be, New Zealand has voted. And, we’re sad to say it, but it’s a definite blow to legalisation efforts in Australia. Cannabis legalisation is a highly progressive change to make, and if one of the most progressive countries in the world votes against it, it’s not looking too good.
And that’s despite Australians consuming record-level of cannabis in 2020, even after the efforts of the NSW Police force seizing over $100 million worth of the drug in the first half of 2020. Surely we’ve come to a point where the benefits of keeping it illegal are simply an illusion.
It’s time to end cannabis prohibition.