Voters in New Zealand narrowly rejected an effort to legalize recreational marijuana, according to official referendum results released on Friday. Only 48.4 percent the country voted in favor of legalization, the New Zealand Electoral Commission said.
The figure for those opposed to recreational pot narrowed from the 53.1 percent recorded in preliminary data released last week, but still maintained a slim majority, according to an article in the Daily Mail.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who voted in favor of the proposal, has vowed to honor the results of the vote, meaning the cannabis issue is unlikely to be revisited in her current term of office.
However, the closeness of the vote will encourage reform advocates, who argue that disadvantaged groups such as the Maori community are disproportionately targeted under current laws.
The dual referendums were held on October 17, alongside the general election that returned Ardern to power with a landslide majority. Earlier this year, New Zealand banned flavored vapor products.
Ardern did not disclose her position on the recreational cannabis debate during the election campaign, although the 40-year-old did admit to smoking marijuana “a long time ago”.
Advocates of the bid to legalize cannabis expressed disappointment that the Kiwi premier did not reveal her support for the bill until after the vote.