Chlöe Swarbrick says Jacinda Ardern could have made 'massive difference' in cannabis referendum

Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick has expressed frustration that her efforts to get Kiwis to vote for cannabis legalisation weren't backed up by the Prime Minister. 

Jacinda Ardern voted in favour of reform in the 2020 referendum but didn't reveal that until after the vote had happened - which saw a narrow loss for the pro-legalisation campaign.

"To be totally frank, I didn’t anticipate that this would be something that was shouldered entirely by one politician or one political party," Swarbrick told Stuff, saying she didn't want to be the only one in Parliament pushing hard for change because "tight or close association of one person with any political issue can end up being quite dangerous because it becomes a proxy for whether you like or dislike a person".

She said Ardern's support could have made a "massive difference" - and it wouldn't have taken much to flip the result, considering 48.4 percent of voters were in favour and 50.7 percent against. 

In September last year, ahead of the referendum, Ardern told The AM Show it wasn't her job to convince people either way. 

"I don't think it's my job therefore to go out and advocate any one side because my party does not have a position on it. The view of the public around me is equivalent therefore to mine." 

After the referendum and election, Ardern - who's admitted to using cannabis in the past - revealed she had voted 'yes' to change. 

Swarbrick said she was also annoyed National campaigned as a party for the 'no' camp, saying she didn't believe "for a second" all of them were opposed to legalisation, accusing National of "selling drug users and people who are experiencing addiction down the river".

The Greens have long pushed for more liberal drug laws.