New Zealand is likely to be the first Asia-Pacific country to legalize recreational cannabis if the expected vote in 2020 goes in favor of legalization. Such a development will make New Zealand the third country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana.
The next general elections in 2020 will have a binding referendum spelling out how exactly the industry will be regulated and managed in case voters approve legalization.
The government announced this approach in order to avoid a situation in which voters approve legalization, and then different parties disagree on how to implement the decision of the voters. A clear example of such a situation is the Brexit issue over which Britons are divided regarding what exactly they approved when they voted to leave the EU.
The decision to include a binding referendum in the next polls was made after the government and the Green Party agreed to work together to take the matter to voters.
The Green Party was particularly vocal in the campaign to legalize recreational cannabis. They argue that it is hypocritical for members of parliament to sit quietly while a law that criminalized marijuana was in force and yet many of them confessed that they had consumed cannabis in the past.
A recent poll conducted by the New Zealand Drug Foundation found that one in three New Zealanders supports the legalization of cannabis.
However, cannabis law reform advocates are unhappy that the government hasn’t revealed what exact question will be put to voters when that binding referendum is held. The Cannabis Reform Coalition suggests that the referendum question should have two parts.
According to them, the first part of the question should be designed to ask voters whether they want adults to grow and possess cannabis for personal consumption. The second part of the question can then ask the voters to state whether they are in favor of letting adults buy cannabis from authorized/licensed premises.
Such a two-part question can help voters indicate which specific form they would like cannabis legalization to take.
It is interesting to note that cannabis may not be the only subject upon which a binding referendum will be conducted come 2020. The New Zealand government is still mulling over the possibility of including a referendum on euthanasia and another on reforming the electoral laws.
Marijuana advocates are hoping that the outcome of the binding referendum is a favorable one, since the country has a history of having voted against changing the flag of the country two years ago (2016). That particular referendum cost the country upwards of $17 million.
Lexaria Bioscience Corp. (CSE: LXX) (OTCQX: LXRP) and other industry players like Marijuana Company of America Inc. (OTCQB: MCOA) can only hope that the voters in New Zealand will be given accurate and detailed information upon which to base which way they vote come 2020.
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