The final results of the referendum on the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill are in and while special votes counted in the last seven days made the margin of victory much narrower, the No vote still won the day.
The final tallies were 50.7% No to 48.4% Yes, compared to 53.1% to 46.1% respectively before special votes were counted.
The No vote totalled 1,474,635 against 1,406,973 for Yes. Informal votes (where the voter has not clearly indicated a preference) totalled 24,463, giving an overall turnout of 2,908,071.
There were hopes special votes could tip the balance in favour of Yes as they include voters who are overseas and considered to be more progressive.
While that appears to have been borne out by the final figures, it was not enough to get Yes over the line.
The bill would have allowed people to possess and consume cannabis in limited circumstances.
People aged 20 or over would have been able to buy up to 14 grams of dried cannabis (or its equivalent) per day from licensed outlets; enter licensed premises where cannabis is sold or consumed; consume cannabis on private property or at licensed premises; grow up to two plants, with a maximum of four plants per household; and share up to 14 grams of dried cannabis (or its equivalent) with another person aged 20 or over.
Despite the narrow margin, prime minister Jacinda Ardern has ruled out pushing ahead with the bill given the majority for No.
Opinion polls fluctuated throughout the campaign, with the vote delayed by four weeks to October 17 due to a renewed Covid-19 outbreak in Auckland. It coincided with the country’s general election and a referendum on the legalisation of euthanasia, which recorded a final Yes vote of 65.1% to 33.7%).