Strong support for legalisation of cannabis, but question over how to do it remains

There is strong support for legalising cannabis in New Zealand, although people are split about how exactly it should done.

Massey University research released exclusively to The AM Show revealed 76 percent of people are in favour of legalising the use of cannabis in some way.

The online survey asked 6300 people their opinions on cannabis use and what kind of regulatory regime they would prefer.

Twenty-seven percent of respondents were in favour of a "grow your own" system, where people could grow and harvest cannabis, but not sell.

Twenty-one percent surveyed said it should be commercialised and sold like alcohol.

Other less popular options included no regulation or managed by the Government. Nineteen percent favoured continued prohibition.

Massey University senior drug researcher Chris Wilkins said the survey was about giving people options.

"We really gave everyone the complete range of options and they often don't get that," he said.

"We provided them with 10 options whereas often people think of this as a binary choice between prohibition and a commercial market like alcohol.

"In fact this shows there's actually a whole range of different options that we can think about."

Dr Wilkins said no one option was the silver bullet and they all had their benefits and disadvantages.

He was in favour of some kind of reform to move away from continuing criminal convictions for people using marijuana.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told The AM Show the Government would be holding a referendum on legalisation within the next few years, but couldn't give any details.

"We've got a commitment through our confidence and supply agreement with the Green Party that by 2020 or at the 2020 general election there will be a referendum on cannabis," she said.

"We are going to put it out to the public."

The Government is yet to decide whether the referendum will run before the 2020 general election, or before it.