New Zealand could become the third country to legalize cannabis for adult use. Currently, cannabis is legal for adult use in Uruguay and Canada, and New Zealand could join that list if voters approve a legalization measure this month.
Election Day is technically on October 17th in New Zealand, although early voting is already underway. The election was originally scheduled for last month but was delayed due to a coronavirus outbreak.
Only time will tell if the measure ultimately passes, however, a study was recently conducted that sheds some light on the level of support for the measure, at least on social media.
Twitter is an extremely popular social media platform that is often harnessed for political purposes. Whether it’s by an official campaign or just a single voter, many New Zealand-focus tweets have involved the legalization measure.
A coalition of researchers based in Australia, the United States, and New Zealand examined Twitter data to gauge the level of support and opposition for New Zealand’s cannabis legalization measure.
Specifically, the researchers “conducted a sentiment analysis of all historic cannabis‐related tweets and referendum‐specific tweets written in New Zealand.”
The researchers didn’t just look at the data in recent months. They went all the way back to July 2009 and identified 304,760 tweets about cannabis legalization and New Zealand.
“Overall, the tweets were predominantly positive (62.0%) and there was a higher proportion of positive tweets written in 2020 (65.3%) compared to negative or neutral tweets. Similarly, for referendum‐specific tweets, the 2020 data reveal a generally positive view of cannabis (53.5%).” researchers concluded.
Twitter is obviously not the same as the ballot box.
For the sake of those that were harmed by cannabis prohibition in New Zealand, and countless others that are at risk of prosecution because of their cannabis use, hopefully voters approve the measure and get New Zealand on the right side of history.
The world will find out soon enough!