The downside to asking a simple yes or no referendum question is relying on people to actively seek all of the information they need to make an educated choice they believe in.
That's where I think it went wrong for the cannabis legalisation and control referendum.
Preliminary numbers show most New Zealanders did not support the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill, with 53.1 per cent voting no in the referendum. That was 1,281,818 people voting no, 1,114,485 people voting yes and 19,244, or 0,8 per cent, not voting or not clearly indicating how they wish to vote.
The official referendum results, which will include special votes, will be released on Friday and while it is possible the results could be flipped once special votes are counted,
the probability of that happening is said to be highly unlikely.
But why did it not get through?
In my view, it was because the campaign against the referendum was stronger than the campaign for it. The narrative that swayed people towards a no vote, it seems, overshadowed the support.
With numerous groups and organisations encouraging a no vote and only the Green Party advocating for change, the pro campaigners didn't seem to make it clear what a yes vote would actually mean.
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They were fighting a battle that relied on people to actively seek all the answers themselves.
All it took was a few clicks on the referendums.govt.nz website for a person to understand saying yes didn't necessarily mean recreational cannabis would become legal straight away. A few clicks would have revealed saying yes was about regulating recreational cannabis use instead of having the streets packed with weed-smokers - as some of those who voted ''no'' believed.
The referendum has been a big topic of conversation among people I know, and just about every person I know who voted against the cannabis change did not do any research of their own or learn what the referendum was truly asking them. Most of those I know who voted yes, did read up.
I've heard people say that had our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed her intention to vote yes the referendum could have had a different outcome. That based on the support she had from New Zealand, people may have followed her lead in voting yes. If that were the case, how would that be a fair vote?
What she did, in keeping her vote to herself until after election day, was right.
Friday will reveal the final result of the referendum but at the end of the day, all those who wanted to use cannabis recreationally can and will do so. Where they'll be buying it from will remain a problem, without any rules around what it may or may not be laced with, and the possibility of buyers being upsold to harsher or more dangerous drugs.
Next time, if the conversation is had again, pro-campaigners need to do more.