Decriminalization of cannabis is only one step towards legalization and is not seen as a rejection of last year's referendum on the plant. A recent poll showed that 69 percent of New Zealanders support the full legalization or decriminalization of cannabis. New Zealand's Minister of Health and Social Development, Dr. Andrew Little, said the decriminalization of cannabis was only "one step" towards legalization.
The legalization of cannabis was rejected in a referendum late last year when 50.7 percent of voters said "no" to legal weed.
Ardern has been criticized for not disclosing her position before the referendum, and she faces criticism from some in her own party and from the New Zealand Drug Policy Alliance (NDPA) for not disclosing her position until after the referendum. Only one member of the National Party, former Prime Minister Bill English, who voted against legalization, has said he voted in favor of legalization.
In an interview last week, Ardern said: "I share the view that the idea of people being criminalized for possession is not something that I think most New Zealanders support", Newshub said. "That's why we continue to make significant changes to our drug laws so that when police find someone in possession of cannabis they don't have to assume they have a criminal record for it", she said in the interview.