New Zealand has decided against legalizing the recreational use of cannabis, bucking a trend toward liberalization among some of its western peers.
In a referendum on whether to allow the use and sale of cannabis, 53% of voters said no and 46% were in favor, according to preliminary results released by the Electoral Commission Friday in Wellington. In a separate referendum, New Zealanders agreed to legalize euthanasia with 65% voting yes.
The verdict on cannabis contrasts with moves away from prohibition in Canada and the U.S., where multi-billion dollar industries have sprung up tomeet demand for legal weed. Canada legalized the drug at a national level in 2018. In the U.S. it’s been approved for recreational use in 11 states so far and several others, including New Jersey, are poised to follow suit. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden may decriminalize cannabis at a federal level if elected. One of Australia’s territories, the ACT, decriminalized pot this year.
While cannabis cultivation and use is widespread in New Zealand, warnings that legalization would make the drug more accessible to children struck a chord with many voters in debates before the referendums, which were conducted in conjunction with the Oct. 17 general election. [Read More @ Bloomberg]