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Jacinda Ardern finally reveals which way she voted in recreational cannabis referendum

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed she voted in favour of recreational cannabis in the recent referendum - as the preliminary results show a close finish in favour of keeping the drug illegal. 

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern. Source: Getty

The recreational cannabis referendum narrowly failed based on the preliminary results, with 53.1 per cent against and 46.1 per cent in favour.   

The official results are due to come out on November 6, which would include special votes that are estimated to make up 17 per cent of the overall vote. The results could impact the final referendum results. 

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Recreational cannabis referendum narrowly fails in preliminary results

A spokesperson for Ardern said she would progress any legislation "in line with the will of the people following the release of the final results next week". 

Ardern refused to reveal the way she voted on cannabis until today. 

National's Judith Collins challenged Ardern to reveal her voting intentions on cannabis on August 11, with Ardern saying at the time the referendum "has been designed for the public to decide".

Ardern was asked earlier this month if Labour would consider decriminalisation of cannabis as an alternative, if the legalisation effort failed but the party returned to power. 

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The Labour leader has refused to reveal how she voted in the referendum. Source: 1 NEWS

"Only if it is considered in the public interest to do so," she said. "What I am interested in doing is looking at the circumstances of the way that the change of law is happening now. Is it meeting our expectations?"

She said at the time, no matter the outcome of the referendum, her issues and concerns around cannabis were to ensure "young people do not end up damaging themselves as a result of access, because that is what I saw as a young person".

"Second, I don't want to see people unnecessarily criminalised. Whatever outcome, that’s what I think we should be looking to achieve."

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Topics covered by Ardern and Judith Collins included Covid-19, the economy, and cannabis. Source: Breakfast

Should the official result change the outcome and the referendum is passed, recreational cannabis would not automatically become legal.

The next Government would introduce a proposed law to Parliament and from there, the public can share their thoughts and ideas on legalising cannabis. It would then need the support of Parliament to pass. 

Currently, the draft bill sets out that only people aged 20 and older could access cannabis.

It would also control the production and supply of cannabis with rules for restricting access, growing and consumption, licensing requirements, taxes, levies and fees. For example, an individual could own two cannabis plants (to a maximum of four per household) and process up to 14 grams of cannabis a day.

Licensed premises would be allowed to sell cannabis, but it could only be consumed on site or in a private residence. Consumption in public places would be prohibited, and online or remote sales of cannabis would not be allowed. 

Holding a referendum on legalising the personal use of cannabis at, or by, the 2020 general election was in the Green and Labour coalition and supply agreement when forming the 2017 Government.