On Friday, Oct. 20, 2017, the recently elected prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Arden, said she wants to initiate countrywide conversations regarding the legalization of cannabis.
According to CNBC, Arden told reporters that she will team up with members of her Cabinet and listen to the advice of others before announcing a polling date.
“During the campaign I’ve always been very vocal about the fact that I do not believe people should be imprisoned for the personal use of cannabis. On the flip-side, I also have concerns around young people accessing a product which can clearly do harm and damage to them,” Arden said.
Arden, a member of the Labour Party, is working with the Green Party who have actively been trying to change the country’s current law regarding cannabis. The Green Party’s manifesto suggests that cannabis should be legal for both personal possession and cultivation, as well as introducing a possible legal age limit and removing punishments for those cultivating medical cannabis.
New Zealand Drug Foundation’s Executive Director Ross Bell claims 65% of people who take part in his company’s polls are in favor of updating the country’s current cannabis laws.
“It is over 40-years-old and like many other countries, successive governments have not wanted to engage on this issue,” Bell revealed to CNBC. “Lo and behold the Green Party come along, and allows the country to have the sort of conversation we should have had for a long time.”
Bell did acknowledge that legalizing cannabis could cause some harm, suggesting that New Zealand officials be cautious when moving forward in the process.
While no referendum date has been given, Bell suggested the country’s government could possibly have it done before 2020.