Support for legalising cannabis getting higher - NZ Drug Foundation

  • 24/07/2018

A new survey has revealed growing support for cannabis law reform, with two thirds of respondents saying the drug should be either legalised or decriminalised for personal possession.

The New Zealand Drug Foundation telephone survey found 35 percent of people want cannabis to be legalised and 32 percent are in favour of decriminalisation.  

The combined number of 67 percent in favour of legalisation or decriminalisation is two percent higher than the 2017 result of 65 percent.

Feelings were most strong around medicinal cannabis for terminal pain relief, where only 10 percent wanted the drug to remain illegal.

Thirteen percent of people wanted cannabis to stay illegal for pain relief in non-terminal illnesses.

Kiwis are however not in favour of commercialised cannabis or growing for friends. Sixty percent wanted selling from a store to remain illegal, while 69 percent wanted growing for friends to stay against the law.

Drug foundation executive director Ross Bell said the results make it clear Kiwis are ready for a change to cannabis laws.

"These results show that New Zealanders are ready for a future under which cannabis is regulated. People realise that the way we're currently dealing with cannabis isn't working," he said.

"Support for both legalisation and decriminalisation has continued to grow. This is good news for those that support treating drug use as a health issue, not a criminal one."

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters says the public should decide on whether to legalise or decriminalise cannabis in New Zealand.

"I'm pro the public making this decision in a referendum and not the politicians," he said.

He told NZME that in a democracy the public could sometimes get things wrong, "but they won't get it as wrong as politicians will."

He says it's "quite possible" that the Government would hold a referendum, but it had long been a New Zealand First position.

The Green Party's confidence and supply agreement promises a referendum on cannabis use before or during the 2020 general election.

The Government has also introduced a medicinal cannabis Bill, which would make it legal for patients with a terminal illness to use medicinal cannabis.

A separate Bill from the Green Party that would have allowed terminally ill and debilitated people to grow their own cannabis failed at its first reading.