New Zealand was poised to make history this year by putting the national legalization of cannabis to a vote, but now advocates are concerned that it won’t make the cut in 2020 due to all the issues that have shifted the focus this year. 

If legalization does get pushed through, cannabis would be legalized for recreational use for those over 20, and there would be regulations as to the growing and selling of cannabis. People would be able to purchase up to 14 grams a day and grow two plants per person. A “yes” vote means that Parliament will be able to pass the law if they choose to, and legal cannabis would be a viable possibility in the country. 

New Zealand would become one of the few countries in the world to have legalized, including Uruguay and Canada. However, many have stated concerns over poll numbers dropping when it comes to cannabis support. 

Studies show that more than $1.4 billion New Zealand dollars could be gained each year from legalizing cannabis, a major boost to the economy. This is based on the country having 400 new stores, 5,000 new jobs, and a spike in cannabis use when it becomes legal. 

However, thanks to the combination of COVID and the other major issues coming up this year, including a vote on euthanasia, which has been a huge moral battleground in New Zealand, there hasn’t been the kind of hype around legalization that one would expect to see on an average year.

Is There Still Support For Legalization?

As of the writing of this article, 35 percent of the 1,000 people surveyed about cannabis in New Zealand said they would support cannabis, which is down from 40 percent back in June and 43 percent in November of last year. Those who oppose the measure weigh in at 53 percent. However, other research conducted by the Horizon Research firm shows different results, that cannabis support is split down the middle. Taking the average of those two, however, there is not an overwhelming support for legalization. 

“Those wanting to see a yes vote had to convince a reasonable number of people that their previous prohibitionist views were mistaken,” said Andrew Geddis, a law professor from University of Otago. “At the moment, it doesn’t look like they have been able to do so and time really is running out.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made headlines recently as the centrist left candidate from the Labor party who admitted to having smoked cannabis in the past during a debate. Though she has smoked, she won’t support the policy openly, saying instead that it is up to the public to decide. Judith Collins, the candidate on the right, says she does not support the policy. 

Many are concerned that if the measure is voted down, it won’t be likely to come up again on the ballot soon. It remains to be seen whether New Zealand will have a victory this year, but the odds aren’t looking too favorable so far.

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