New Zealand to hold recreational cannabis referendum

New Zealand will hold a public referendum on whether to legalize recreational marijuana for personal use at some point over the next three years, according to the nation’s newly elected prime minister.

Jacinda Ardern – who was confirmed as the nation’s next prime minister on Thursday after a close September election – hasn’t said whether she favors legalization. But she has said the current system wasn’t working well.

“I’ve always been very open about the fact that I do not believe that people should be imprisoned for personal use of cannabis,” said Ardern, whose new government takes office next week. “On the flip side, I also have concerns around young people accessing a product which can clearly do harm and damage to them.”

Ardern said she wanted to hear from New Zealanders and figure out the correct wording for the referendum before taking a stance.

It’s not immediately clear whether a referendum would seek to legalize full-scale cultivation and sales of marijuana, however.

Adren will spearhead a three-way coalition involving the Greens and nationalist party New Zealand First, the BBC reported. reported that a proposed change in New Zealand’s law involving cannabis is being fueled by the Green Party manifesto. It declares that marijuana should be legal for personal use, including possession and cultivation.

The referendum would make New Zealand the first nation to hold a countrywide vote on legalizing marijuana.

– Associated Press