Voters on Saturday will decide on a nationwide referendum to legalize the possession and use of cannabis by those age 20 or older.
The binding measure, entitled the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill, is one of two ballot questions that will be decided alongside the General Election on October 17. The election was initially scheduled for September 19, but was delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Early voting has already begun.
The referendum, which has been endorsed by NORML New Zealand, mandates lawmakers to establish rules and regulations permitting the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis and cannabis-infused products. Those 20 years of age or older would be permitted to purchase up to 14 grams of herbal cannabis per day, or to grow their own plants (up to four plants per household).
Polling on the referendum have been nearly evenly split for the past several months, with the most recent survey showing supporters leading opponents by a margin of 46 percent to 42 percent.
If passed by voters, New Zealand will become only the third country – following Canada and Uruguay – to legalize adult-use cannabis sales nationwide.
Under current New Zealand law, the adult use of marijuana is criminalized, punishable by up to three months in jail.