NZ Election 2020: Judith Collins thinks Jacinda Ardern 'owes a duty to New Zealanders' to reveal her cannabis stance

National leader Judith Collins thinks the Prime Minister "owes a duty to New Zealanders" to reveal her stance on recreational cannabis, but former Prime Minister Helen Clark understands her reluctance. 

Jacinda Ardern has repeatedly pushed back against pressure to reveal if she will vote in favour of legislation to support recreational cannabis legalisation, but she has been open about voting in favour of the End of Life Choice Bill to legalise euthanasia.  

Ardern was already on the record as supporting euthanasia before the decision was made to put it to a binding referendum. In contrast, the cannabis referendum is not binding and was set up as part of the Green Party's confidence and supply agreement with Labour.  

A proposed legal regime is outlined in the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill, but there's no legal obligation for it to be adopted if the referendum passes. The End of Life Choice Bill is binding and will become law if it passes. 

Ardern has explained how she believes her role as Prime Minister is to facilitate the cannabis referendum without influencing the public's vote, because she wants to enable the outcome of it whichever way it goes.  

"My vote I see as good as my neighbour's vote and equal to theirs and I do want to be able to maintain the position that should people vote in favour or opposed, that I can then be seen to objectively facilitate that happening."

Collins said she has heard Ardern's reasons for not revealing her stance on recreational cannabis but says she "owes a duty to New Zealanders" to tell them how she feels about it. 

"I have noticed that there is a difference in Ms Ardern's attitude towards her wishes around supposedly influencing New Zealand voters," Collins said on Tuesday. 

"We know where she's voting on the referendum on End of Life Choice - she's voting for it. We don't know where she's voting on the sale and use of recreational cannabis. 

"She owes a duty to New Zealanders to tell them what her views are. I've made it very clear I'm voting for the End of Life Choice referendum and I'm voting against the cannabis one."

Helen Clark, who served as Prime Minister from 1999 to 2008, said she understands Ardern's reluctance to say where she stands on the issue. 

"I can understand why Jacinda hasn't given her position, she said 'it's being put to the people to decide and I'm going to stand back'," Clark told The AM Show. 

Clark is a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy and is urging voters to tick 'yes', but she said it was "entirely up to her" if Ardern wanted to stay tight-lipped. 

"I think she'll be very mindful of the Chief Science Adviser's report which was kind of balanced - 'there's this, and there's that and there's the other' - but it didn't come out saying 'this is a disaster'."

The Government announced in May 2019 that Kiwis would vote on legislation to legalise recreational cannabis at the 2020 election and at the time Ardern would not reveal if she had tried it before - but she offered a clue.  

"I was raised Mormon and then I was not Mormon. I let other people determine what that means."