New poll suggests recreational cannabis referendum won't pass

Next year's cannabis referendum will fail to see the drug legalised as growing numbers of Kiwis turn against legalising recreational cannabis, a new poll suggests.

New Zealanders will vote on whether to legalise the drug at the 2020 election. But Horizon Research's polling shows support has fallen from 60 percent in November, to 52 percent in April, to just 39 percent this month.

And the number of adults against legalising the personal use of cannabis has nearly doubled since November - increasing from 24 percent to 47 percent.

Paul Manning, executive director of Helius Therapeutics, says he's not surprised New Zealand is turning against legalisation as key messages from cannabis proponents are not getting through.

"On the current trajectory, the referendum is heading for certain defeat," he said on Saturday.

"A vacuum of information in recent months has been filled by fear. This is the first set of comparable independent surveys, conducted by the same research company, and the downward trend is staggering. Those pushing for liberalisation will be particularly alarmed to see the substantial drop-off in support, particularly from Green Party voters and younger Kiwis."

The number of Green Party voters in favour of legalising cannabis for personal use has fallen the most according to Horizon, from 83 percent in April to 64 percent this month. Labour Party supporters in favour have fallen from 63 percent in April to 46 percent.

At the same time, National Party supporters against legalising cannabis for personal use have risen from less than half to nearly two-thirds. In November 48 percent of National voters were against, rising to 60 percent in April and 64 percent now.

The Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell told Newshub in June the Government needs to get involved in the education campaign as there's currently a lot of lies spreading about the drug.

"At the moment there is a vacuum and that vacuum is being filled by myth and misinformation and so the Government does actually have a responsibility to get facts and figures out there."

Horizon's poll surveyed 1003 people on August 3 to 4. At a 95 percent confidence level, the maximum margin of error is ±3.1 percent.