The final results of the 2020 election today have delivered a blunt blow to New Zealanders hopeful of legalising cannabis for personal use.
However, the gap between those voting for and against the reform around cannabis shrunk 2.4 per cent points after the recount and addition of special votes.
Of the 2,908,071 total votes received, 48.4 per cent supported the proposed cannabis legislation and control bill and 50.7 per cent opposed.
The preliminary referendum results showed 46.1 per cent voted for legalised cannabis, compared to 53.1 per cent against.
It comes as the final results also show National has lost two seats, Labour has gained one, and the Māori Party is back with two seats.
The incoming Government will still look to improve the current health-based approach to drug law reform.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said some of the issues legalisation sought to address - including referring cannabis users to health services rather than the justice system - will be looked at regardless of the referendum result.
NZ Drug Foundation chair Tuari Potiki says the close result shows drug law should not be ruled out but acknowledges the cannabis legislation and control bill is unlikely to be put forward in its current form.
"The close result shows an unprecedented level of support for change in some form. Doing nothing is not an option for the Government," Potiki said.
"The issues that make reform essential have not simply disappeared now the votes are cast.
"The Government must find out what New Zealanders' key concerns were in voting no, and come back with proposed legislation that will address the issues we all agree on."
SayNoToDope campaign spokesperson Aaron Ironside says New Zealand has dodged a bullet by rejecting the legalisation of cannabis.
Ironside says the mental health system is strained and legalising the drug would have added to social harm.
"The use of cannabis is associated with increased risks of a number of adverse outcomes including educational delay, welfare dependence, increased risks of psychotic symptoms, major depression, increased risks of motor vehicle accidents, increased risks of other illicit drug use, and respiratory impairment," Ironside said.
"In US states that have already legalised the drug, these states have seen a black market that continues to thrive, and sustained marijuana arrest rates."
Auckland Central MP Chlöe Swarbrick, who cemented her seat today, says the Greens always knew the results would be close and they were proud to have run "an evidence-based campaign for a harm-reduction approach".
"Despite the result, we're really glad to have sparked a conversation about the need for fit-for-purpose drug laws in New Zealand," Swarbrick said.
"As a country, we've come so far in understanding the need to reduce the harm of drugs by bringing them out of the shadows, and I remain committed to working for a drug harm reduction approach to drugs in the future."
The Drug Foundation favours a Government response that keeps legislation of cannabis on the table in some form.
Meanwhile, the final referendum result for supporting the End of Life Choice Bill is 65.1 per cent (down 0.1 per cent).
The final results - which include 504,625 special votes, or 17 per cent of the total - will not change the parliamentary majority that Labour holds or the Labour-Greens cooperation agreement that has already been signed.
But they determine the number of each parties' MPs in Parliament.
The provisional results three weeks ago were: Labour on 49.1 per cent (64 seats), National on 26.8 per cent (35 seats), Act on 8 per cent (10 seats), the Greens on 7.6 per cent (10 seats), and the Māori Party with the seat of Waiariki.
The final results have Labour on 50 per cent (65 seats), National on 25.6 per cent (33 seats), Act on 7.6 per cent (10 seats), the Greens on 7.9 per cent (10 seats), and the Māori Party with 1.2 per cent (two seats).