New Zealand’s cannabis referendum will now take place on October 17 after prime minister Jacinda Ardern pushed the date of the general election back by four weeks due to the country’s renewed Covid-19 outbreak.
As well as choosing a new government, New Zealanders were due to vote in referendums to legalise cannabis and euthanasia on September 21.
Opinion polls have suggested voters are split on the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill, which would allow people aged 20+ to buy and consume recreational cannabis under strict controls.
While some online polls have suggested ‘Yes’ campaigners will win the day, broadcaster-backed public pollsters have ‘No’ in front.
Opposition parties had called for all three polls to be moved and, after consulting them and the country’s electoral commission, Ardern announced October 17 as the new date.
She said the likelihood of Covid-19 being around “for some time to come” meant there would be no further delays.
She added: “The Electoral Commission, via the Ministry of Justice, has advised me that a safe and accessible election is achievable on this date. Moving the date by four weeks also gives all parties a fair shot to campaign and delivers New Zealanders certainty without unnecessarily long delays.”
New Zealand had enjoyed 102 days without new Covid-19 infections, but an outbreak in Auckland last week meant the country’s largest city went back into lockdown.