NZ Election 2020: New poll shows cannabis likely to become legalised

A new poll shows cannabis legalisation is on track to pass in the upcoming referendum, but only if Kiwis turn up to vote.

During the 2020 election on October 17, New Zealanders will be asked whether they support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill. 

The bill intends to eliminate the illegal supply of cannabis, restrict young people's access to cannabis, and make sure the response to any breach of the law is fair.

It would also control the production and supply of cannabis, including controlling the potency and contents of licensed cannabis and cannabis products.

If more than 50 percent of people vote 'yes' in the referendum, the incoming Government can introduce a bill that would legalise cannabis. But if more than 50 percent of people vote 'no', recreational cannabis will remain illegal, as is the current law.

On Tuesday the Helen Clark Foundation and the New Zealand Drug Foundation, which are both urging Kiwis to vote 'yes', released the latest UMR poll predicting the referendum's results.

It asked 1129 New Zealanders aged 18 years and over: "Do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill?"

  • 49 percent said 'yes'
  • 45 percent said 'no'
  • 4 percent said they 'didn't know'
  • 2 percent won't vote

Those who said they were unsure were asked which way they were leaning: 2 percent said they were leaning in favour of legalisation, and 2 percent against.

Kathy Errington, the executive director of the Helen Clark Foundation, said the results are very close.

"These results suggest that turnout will be crucial for the final result," she said. "We encourage all New Zealanders to get out and vote."

The polls also showed support for the bill is most likely to come from supporters of the Green Party (82 percent), along with Māori (66 percent), respondents aged 18-29 (62 percent) and Labour supporters (62 percent).

National supporters (26 percent) and respondents over 60 years (33 percent) were less likely to say they would vote for the Bill.

The poll was completed as a part of a nation-wide survey which was conducted online between September 22 and October 5.

The maximum sampling error for a sample size of 1129 at the 95 percent confidence level is ± 2.9 percent.

The New Zealand Drug Foundation director Ross Bell emphasised that polls are uncertain.

"They certainly have proven to be a poor predictor of recent referendums overseas," Bell said.

This comes after a Newshub Reid-Research poll last week showed cannabis looked set to remain a criminal offence.

In that poll, 50.5 percent of respondents said they 'no' to the referendum question, while only 37.9 percent said 'yes'.