New Zealand ushered in a brand new and one of the country’s most progressive cabinets in its recently concluded election. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was re-elected by a landslide, and the election saw many firsts across the board, as the country elected its first Maori minister. According to the NZ Herald, of those in the Cabinet: 40 percent are women, 25 percent are Maori, 15 percent identify as LGBT, and 15 percent are of a Pacific Islander background.
New Zealanders also voted on two referendums, one to consider the legalization of euthanasia and the other to legalize recreational cannabis use. While the measure to legalize euthanasia passed resoundingly, marijuana was not legalized, failing by an estimated margin of 50.7-48.4.
The referendum proposed to legalize the production and sale of fresh and dried cannabis, including plants and seeds – for people over 20 years old. The change would also have imposed more stringent restrictions than the rules around sales of alcohol and tobacco. While the referendum is non-binding and has no legal considerations, it does place an obligation (quite a straightforward one at that) on the government to ally its policies with the popular mandate.
The issue of marijuana legalization was one of the core issues that defined this “COVID” election, as it has widely been declared to be, with the then and now Prime Minister stating that she had used cannabis in the past.
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