Final votes confirm New Zealand won’t legalize marijuana

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand won’t be legalizing marijuana after the final votes counted Friday in a referendum failed to overturn the result from election night — although it got close.

The referendum to legalize the drug ended up with 48% support and 51% against, a tightening from the election night split of 46% in favor and 53% against. The special votes counted after the Oct. 17 election included those cast overseas and accounted for about 17% of the total vote.

The special votes also slightly increased the majority of liberal Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Labour Party, which ended up with just over 50% of the total vote, and 65 of Parliament’s 120 seats.

It is the first time any single party has commanded a majority in Parliament since New Zealand introduced a proportional system 24 years ago.

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