Cannabis referendum could be binding

A cannabis referendum (on recreational use) is part of the confidence and supply agreement between the Greens and Labour, and has been promised before or at the 2020 election. The Government is considering making it a binding referendum.

RNZ:  Cannabis referendum may be binding

The Justice Minister Andrew Little says the government is considering what kind of referendum will be held.

“One of the decisions that the Government is going to make is whether it will be a binding referendum, meaning that once the decision is made then the Government will follow through on it. In order for a binding referendum to take place there has to be a reasonable degree of specificity and certainty about what would follow a ‘yes’ vote.”

Winston Peters says he would support the result of a referendum.

“Well look we don’t believe in fake democracy. A referendum is a form of democracy.

“If the question’s going to the people, the people’s answer will be paramount, yes.”

Simon Bridges says that National would follow the wishes of a public referendum: National would legalise cannabis if public voted in favour – Bridges

If the public votes in favour of legalising cannabis in a referendum, a National-led government would change the law accordingly, National Party leader Simon Bridges says.

Mr Bridges said National would enact a law change if that was what New Zealanders wanted.

“Oh I think we’ve got to, I mean we’ve got to go with what the people want and what a referendum tells us.

“We’ve got a bit of water to go under the bridge, we’ve got to see the question, we’re going to have an informed debate I hope on the issues, but absolutely on principle we support referendums and their outcomes.”

Not as much certainty from Labour though.

When asked before she went on maternity leave, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern would not yet commit to whether Labour would legalise marijuana if a referendum favoured the change.

That’s disappointing from Ardern.

Guarded support but vagueness from the Minister of Health: David Clark in favour of liberalising drug laws

Health Minister David Clark is personally in favour of more liberal drug laws because prohibition has not worked in the past.

But Clark would not commit to abiding by the result of any referendum on loosening laws around cannabis use, saying he preferred to wait for advice from his colleagues.

“I think it’s highly likely that that’s the course we would take … all I’ve said is I want to wait for advice.

“I haven’t had a conversation with colleagues about how that referendum’s going to be framed and what question we’re going to be asking the public.

“Broadly, I favour at a more personal level, more liberal drug laws because I think in the world when prohibition has been tried, it hasn’t worked.”

Clark seems to have been one of the weakest links in the medicinal cannabis bill before Parliament at the moment, so it’s hard to know how he would deal with this.

Hopefully Parliament will make it a ‘conscience vote’ (personal vote) for MPs when it comes to legislation, and hopefully the will of the people weights heavily on the consciences of MPs.

If ever there was an issue that could do with some real leadership in parliament, this is it.

Perhaps Ardern has had a chance to see this while on her break from Parliament, and she picks up and runs with proper drug law reform rather than the weak tinkering and dithering we have seen so far.

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4 Comments

  1. Zedd

     /  July 31, 2018

    Due to all the TOTAL confusion that now exists, over medicinal use.. I wont believe any of these ‘reports’ until I hear if from either the minister or PMs mouth.
    This whole matter is just becoming a political football, now that Natl have a ‘new found’ support ?
    After 9 loooong years of refusing to move on either medicinal or recreational use 😦

    Reply
  2. oldlaker

     /  July 31, 2018

    Bridges said a government he led would pass laws legalising recreational cannabis and euthanasia if a referendum showed a majority of voters wanted it….. I assume that means that MPs would be whipped to support a new law in each case. I don’t think it should be a conscience vote if the electorate gives a clear steer to politicians in a well-organised referendum.

    Reply
  3. NOEL

     /  August 1, 2018

    Parliament not Government has to pass enabling legislation and set the trigger.
    Can’t see it been binding.
    https://www.parliament.nz/en/visit-and-learn/how-parliament-works/parliamentary-practice-in-new-zealand/chapter-40-referendums/

    Reply
  4. Zedd

     /  August 1, 2018

    old saying; (mushroom theory for politics) ‘keep them in the dark & feed them lots of manure/BS’ as seems popular from the right.. BUT both sides are guilty

    Reply

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