New Zealand cannabis referendum fails by razor thin margin

The “no” side narrowly prevailed in New Zealand’s referendum on a cannabis legalization bill after the final 492,000 votes were tallied, the country’s Electoral Commission announced Friday.

One week ago, preliminary results showed a slim majority of voters in New Zealand had rejected the country’s referendum on the proposed bill to legalize and regulate sales of adult-use cannabis.

Businesses supporting a regulated marijuana market had hoped the outstanding ballots would tilt the result in their favor.

However, legalization proponents came 67,662 votes shy out of 2,415,547 votes cast.

New Zealand entrepreneurs are now keeping their focus on the country’s new medical cannabis market.

“The country’s nascent medicinal cannabis industry will continue to grow in importance – both in public health and economic terms,” Paul Manning, co-founder of medical marijuana producer Helius Therapeutics, said in a statement.

New Zealand’s Medicinal Cannabis Scheme took effect in April, but the country will continue to rely on expensive imports until local production is up-and-running.

Canada and Uruguay remain the only two countries to have legalized adult-use cannabis at a national level.

View the final results for the referendum on the Cannabis Legalization and Control Bill here.