Survey results released today by the Helen Clark Foundation and the NZ Drug Foundation show that support for cannabis legalisation grows when people know more about the proposed legislation.
When respondents were asked how they would vote in September's referendum based on what they already know, the result was neck and neck – 46 percent said they would vote for the legalisation of cannabis, 44 percent said they would vote against it, and 10 percent were undecided.
When people were then told more about the limits and restrictions on cannabis use and sale in the proposed legislation, support for legalisation increased to 50 percent, opposition decreased to 42 percent, and 8 percent were undecided.
“These results suggest New Zealanders are likely to support a sensible approach to cannabis harm reduction when they have accurate information about what is being proposed,” said Holly Walker, Deputy Director of the Helen Clark Foundation.
“The details matter. Armed with the facts, voters see that putting in place rules and enforcing these is better than the status quo.”
New Zealand Drug Foundation saw similar results in research commissioned in November last year. “When initially asked how they would vote, participants were evenly split, with around 14 percent undecided. Once the participants were given more information on the legislation, we saw stronger support for a yes vote,” said Ross Bell, Executive Director, NZ Drug Foundation.
Over the last two months the proportion of undecided voters has dropped, following the release of the draft Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill in December.
The draft legislation includes an age limit of 20, redistribution of tax into harm reduction, health and education programmes, a ban on all marketing and advertising of cannabis products, strict controls on the potency of cannabis, and other restrictions.
“When people learn about these proposed restrictions, they are more likely to support a law change,” said Ms Walker.
“Legalising, regulating, and taxing cannabis use makes sense to a lot of people. They know that the status quo isn't working. People can see that New Zealand would not be going out on a limb as more countries have already moved or are moving in this direction.”
“Over the last three months we have been approached by many New Zealanders saying this issue is worthy of their attention and they want more information,” said Ross Bell.
“Not everyone knows the basics. We have had people ask us if they have to be enrolled to participate in the referendum. This issue is relevant to every New Zealander and they want to talk and have their say on this. I would say that it's not enough to rely on poll after poll to have this discussion,” said Bell.
“There is evidence from other jurisdictions that if we are going to have this conversation people need good, accurate information. We have an opportunity to vote on a solution that is focused on positive public health outcomes and harm minimisation, so let's do it right,” said Bell.
About the survey
The survey questions were commissioned by the Helen Clark Foundation and included in UMR’s most recent nation-wide omnibus survey, an online survey of a nationally representative sample of 1000 New Zealanders 18 years of age and over.
Fieldwork for the survey was conducted between 22 January and 3 February 2020. The maximum sampling error for a sample size of 1000 at the 95% confidence level is ± 3.1%.
Respondents were first asked “As you may be aware, later this year there will be a referendum alongside the general election to see if New Zealanders want to legalise cannabis. Based on what you already know, will you ... Vote for legalisation of cannabis/ Vote against legalisation of cannabis/ Unsure”
Following this, respondents were given the following additional information about the referendum:
The Government has recently released the draft Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill.
The draft includes:
They were then asked how they would vote in the referendum again.
- Helen Clark Foundation
Less than three months out from the General Election, an independent survey of nearly 1,600 Kiwis shows 56% will vote for legalising the personal use of cannabis at the referendum – up from 54% in February.
43% will vote against reform, down from 45%.
Horizon Research conducted the survey between June 10 and 14, 2020. It is the sixth in a series of comprehensive surveys tracking nationwide opinion on cannabis law reform. The research is commissioned by New Zealand’s largest medicinal cannabis company, Helius Therapeutics.
Higher support among women:
The June survey also reveals women favour legalisation more than men. Since February support for legalisation among women has risen 4% to 59%, with 52% of men set to vote yes.
Majority support across all but othose aged 65+:
Legalising the personal use of cannabis achieves majority support among all Kiwis deemed young adults or middle-aged - 18 to 64-year-olds.
Senior New Zealanders are the only group opposed, but support among older demographics has been steadily increasing throughout Horizon’s series of tracking surveys.
Support among those aged 65 to 74 years is now at 39% - up from 30% when the first survey was conducted in November 2018, while support among those aged 75 or older is at 27%, up from 24% in February.
With support peaking at 72% among 25 to 34-year-olds, youth turn-out will be important for proponents, particularly young adults who support centre-left and liberal parties.
Majority of voters for four of five parties now saying Yes:
Notably, New Zealand First voters have now shifted to support reform. In fact, based on survey respondents’ 2017 party vote, voters for four of the five parties currently in Parliament now support legalisation, up from two in February.
53% of New Zealand First voters and 70% of ACT voters will now tick yes at the referendum – up from 46% and 45% respectively in February.
Support continues to firm up among supporters of the two main centre-left parties, with 72% of Labour voters and 81% of Green voters intending to vote in favour of cannabis legalisation – up from 64% and 78% respectively.
Only National voters remain opposed, although nearly one-third say they will vote yes. Among National voters, support is now at 31% – up from 27% in February.
With overall support now at 56%, the large public survey has tracked support steadily returning for personal-use cannabis legalisation, after it bottomed out 10 months ago.
Support was first recorded at 60% in November 2018. Then last year support was at 52% in April; 39% in August; 48% in November; and 54% in February 2020.
To better emulate the choice voters will have when they vote at the upcoming referendum, the two latest surveys removed the previous ‘no opinion’ option, forcing a yes or no response. This equally lifted both support and opposition to reform.
Cannabis prohibition - not working to reduce access and use:
For the second time in the series, two questions were asked about whether prohibition is working to limit the availability and use of cannabis, and whether controls over growing and selling cannabis would deliver a better outcome for society. The latest results show New Zealanders’ strong views on both issues have barely changed since February.
Researchers asked if the prohibition of cannabis was limiting access and use, only 17% said it was. A staggering 81% said cannabis is available and used by many New Zealanders, and 2% gave no response.
On whether respondents believed controls over growing and selling cannabis for personal use would deliver a better outcome for society, 71% said yes, 27% supported continuing with no controls, and 3% gave no response.
Helius Pharmaceuticals Chief Executive Paul Manning says:
“This result will energise both the yes and no camps. It shows just how close the vote will be, with 81% of Kiwis also declaring that prohibition has failed to limit cannabis access and use. The opportunity for wider reform is something all New Zealanders must start thinking about,” says Paul Manning, Chief Executive of Helius Therapeutics.
“This is a polarising debate but despite prohibition, cannabis is already widely accessible in New Zealand. September’s referendum is fundamentally a decision about who we want to control cannabis. Government-led control would weaken the stranglehold gangs have on our communities. Reform transfers cannabis access to a regulated, locally-owned businesses, delivering jobs and tax revenue, while ushering in quality standards and strict access controls,” says Mr Manning.
“New Zealanders have less than three months to decide who they want to ultimately control the cannabis market. There are only two choices: Gangs or government.
“Today, hundreds of thousands of Kiwis are accessing cannabis illicitly. Wrestling regulatory control away from the black market would bring about product quality, safer communities, job opportunities, and significant tax revenue for healthcare,” says Paul Manning.
Client and methodology:
Commissioned by Helius Therapeutics and carried out independently by Horizon Research, the results are from a nationwide online survey of 1,593 adults representing the 18+ population at the 2018 census, conducted between 10 and 14 June 2020.
Respondents were members of Horizon’s HorizonPoll panel and a third party representative nationwide research panel, both of which represent the New Zealand adult population at the 2018 Census. Results are weighted by age, gender, highest education, personal income, employment status and party voted for at the 2017 general election. At a 95% confidence level, the maximum margin of error is ±2.5%.
Helius and Horizon’s tracking of public opinion on the referendum over the past 20 months makes it the most significant series of surveys on the issue.
Key results summary:
Question: At this time, do you think you will vote for or against legalising cannabis for personal use in New Zealand?
Party Vote 2017:
Question: Currently, producing cannabis for personal or non-prescription use is prohibited in New Zealand, with the intention of limiting its availability and use. Do you think prohibition of cannabis is working in New Zealand society?
Question: Currently, growing cannabis for personal use is prohibited in New Zealand. Which one of the following options do you think will have a better outcome for New Zealand society?
27% - Continuing with no controls over growing and selling personal use.
71% - Controls over growing and selling personal use.
3% - No response given.
An operation producing cannabis-infused gummy lollies, chocolates and baked goods in Waikato has been busted by police.
The seizure of the lollies and goods such as muffins, cookies and brownies infused with the Class B drug was part of Operation Casper - an investigation into the production and distribution of cannabis edibles sold online, police said in a statement on Wednesday.
The products were being marketed and sold online via Instagram and Facebook and through a website using the alias 'Dolly's Edibles', Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley said.
A search warrant on Friday, June 5, uncovered a large quantity of cannabis infused butter and a significant quantity of cannabis infused products including gummy and jelly lollies, moulded chocolates, muffins, cookies and brownies.
A 27-year-old woman appeared in the Hamilton District court on Tuesday charged with a number of drug offences relating to the production, supply and distribution of these products. She was remanded to reappear on June 24.
"The method of selling via social media platforms allows people of all ages, including children and young people, to easily purchase and obtain these products," Pitkethley said.
"Many of these baked goods and gummy or jelly lollies have the appearance of normal baked products and confectionery.
"It's important for our communities to recognise the forms these products can take and how they are distributed to help us lessen the risk of children consuming them.
"It's equally important for parents and caregivers to be aware that young people are able to purchase these products via a range of social media platforms."
The psychoactive effects from eating cannabis products will be widely variable depending on the individual, he said. There is the potential for people, whether they are familiar with cannabis or not, to eat too much, with extreme results.
It would also be extremely frightening to a person eating these products unknowingly.
"While education is a priority for us, we also remind people that cannabis oil is a Class B controlled illicit drug and it is an offence to purchase or attempt to purchase these products."
Anyone affected by drug addiction is urged to seek help through the Alcohol and Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797, or free text 1737 to speak with a trained counsellor.
Aaron Ironside is the new spokesperson for the "Say Nope To Dope" anti-cannabis campaign.
Aaron Ironside rose to prominence in the 1990’s as the anchor of Radio Hauraki’s popular Morning Pirates breakfast show. The young rock DJ fully embraced the Sex, Drugs and Rock n Roll lifestyle that accompanied his new-found fame. Aaron say's that he quickly turned his occasional cannabis use into a daily habit that consumed his life. In time, he realised that his addiction was now affecting his mental health, exacerbating his symptoms of anxiety and depression.
In 1998, Aaron quit the high-profile job and decided to deal with his addiction. Once clean he began working in the Not-For-Profit sector, putting his Masters Degree in Psychology to work. In 2012 he started A.I. Counselling and Coaching helping hundreds of clients find freedom from many different types of addiction and substance abuse.
Aside from his personal experience with cannabis, Aaron has witnessed the devastation the plant causes to vulnerable families during his work with a community group in Manurewa. The systemic damage that addiction creates was clearly seen in the poverty, crime and mental health outcomes for the Maori and Pasifika families who engaged with the organisation.
Although himself drug-free (apart from alcohol) for over 20 years, he says some of his extended family members continue to struggle with the grip cannabis has over their lives. Aaron is passionate about protecting them from further harm, and helping New Zealand pursue programs and legislation that will benefit all sectors of society.
The Say Nope to Dope campaign say they are a group of concerned organisations and individuals who oppose any attempt to decriminalise or legalise cannabis, despite many members including their own spokesperson who continue to consume the toxic drug alcohol. The group will be officially launched in the coming weeks.
The complete and final version of the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill that will be voted on in one of two referendums at this year’s General Election was released today by Justice Minister Andrew Little.
Publication of the exposure draft Bill on referendums.govt.nz follows the release of an interim version of the Bill in December last year and is part of the Government’s commitment to ensuring the voting public have ample opportunity to be informed ahead of this year’s referendums.
“It is important that all eligible voters have the opportunity to be informed about the upcoming referendums. The Government is committed to providing impartial, unbiased information on the referendums and its process,” Andrew Little said.
The exposure draft Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill has been updated and includes details about:
No further updates of the Bill will be made before the referendum.
The wording of the cannabis referendum question has also been confirmed as a straight Yes/No question:
Do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill?
Yes, I support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill
No, I do not support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill
Further information on each the referendum, including downloadable fact sheets translated into multiple languages and a range of accessible resources will be made available at www.referendums.govt.nz in the near future.
Explanatory material on the referendum, will also be included in the Electoral Commission’s enrollment update and EasyVote card mail-outs to voters in the lead-up to this year’s election.
“It is important that the public feel they can meaningfully participate in the referendum. To do so, the public need to be able to access factual and impartial information.
“The referendum is a commitment in the Labour-Green Confidence and Supply Agreement,” Andrew Little said.
New Zealanders will be voting for their electorate candidate, their favourite political party, and also deciding if they would like to legalise euthanasia and recreational cannabis.
This year's general election will be held on a Saturday, the same as 2017 when the general election was held on September 23.
"We will be asking for a further term to get the job done," the Prime Minister said at her post-Cabinet press conference on Tuesday, after confirming the date.
New Zealand operates under a mixed-member proportional (MMP) voting system. In 2017, 71 members were elected from single-member electorates and 49 members were elected from closed party lists.
In September last year, it was announced there will be a new electorate at the 2020 general election resulting in one fewer list seats in Parliament than at the 2017 election.
The 2017 election saw five political parties return to Parliament - National, Labour, New Zealand First, the Greens and ACT - down from seven parties in 2014.
One of those parties that didn't make it back to Parliament was the Māori Party, and it's rumoured they are gearing up for a return to Parliament in 2020.
After the 2017 election, even with support partner ACT, the National Party were short of the 61 seats needed to govern following the 2017 general election results.
It needed New Zealand First's nine seats to govern, but New Zealand First leader Winston Peters decided to give his seats to Labour and form a coalition, with the Greens as Labour's confidence and supply partner.
The election resulted in Labour leader Jacinda Ardern becoming New Zealand's third female Prime Minister, and Peters taking on the Deputy Prime Minister role for a second time.