New Zealand mulls if it will hold its marijuana referendum before election

New Zealand’s Justice Minister Andrew Little said the country’s government is contemplating if it will hold a referendum on the recreational use of marijuana next year before the 2020 General Election, Radio NZ reported last week.

The referendum was part of the confidence and supply deal struck between Labour and the Greens.

“There are two competing issues, one is it would be convenient to have it then (2020) we’ve got a General Election so we’re already running a ballot there,” Little said.

Holding the referendum on marijuana a year before the 2020 General Election is considered to be a smart move politically.

“On the other hand, there would be other colleagues who would say ‘well we don’t necessarily want a General Election run on this particular sort of issue, so let’s have it at a different time’ – that issue hasn’t been resolved and it will be a little while before it is, I suspect.”

He also said that the referendum on euthanasia should be combined with that on marijuana.

Likewise, Chloe Swarbrick, a spokeswoman for the Green Party’s drug law reform, believes if it held before the election it would reduce the politicizing the matter.

“If we hold it in 2019, it may not be deeply politicized, polarized or pigeon-holed – and we are hopefully able to have more of an evidentiary discussion.”

However, there are people who beg to differ.

The leader of the Green Party, James Shaw says he would like to see the referendum fall on the same day as elections.

“People are going to be going to the polling booths anyway.”