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Ardern rejects notion she didn't have 'courage of her convictions' to reveal her cannabis vote before election

Jacinda Ardern has defended her decision to keep her cannabis vote secret prior to the election.

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The Prime Minister said she had decided on her position at the start of the referendum.

Preliminary results released yesterday, indicate the recreational cannabis referendum has failed, with a result of 53.1% against and 46.1% in support.

This means if the final vote is reflected in the official results, recreational cannabis would remain illegal - however, official results are set to be released on November 6, which would include special votes that are estimated to make up 17 per cent of the overall vote.

Regarding her ‘yes’ vote in the cannabis referendum,  Ardern said she had weighed up her views. 

“Look as I’ve said since I became an MP, two issues that I’ve always wanted to weigh up – one is not wanting to see people imprisoned for personal possession but at the same time I’ve always had concerns about young people’s access.

“I weighed those issues up and I voted in favour.

“However I wanted every New Zealander to weigh those issues up independently of my view. That was something I set out, I think as early as the beginning of the year - and I stuck to it.”

She rejected a reporter’s question that she didn't have the "courage of her convictions" on the issue. 

“Firstly I reject that, me allowing New Zealanders to make up their own mind is anything other than allowing people the old freedom of their view.

“And I have taken that position right at the beginning of the year that that’s what I would do on the referendum.”

Ardern said the Labour “does not” have a position on the issue.

“I’m the Labour leader, I took my vote, as a personal vote in a way that many other New Zealanders did."

“There have been issues where I have taken very strong positions on things that are quite personal."

“Euthanasia, I’ve always been consistent on. Abortion law, not only did I take a position on, I pursued it and changed the law in Parliament.

“On this occasion, I wanted New Zealanders to decide.”