3rd September 2020
By Emily Ledger

The latest wave of voter polls has revealed that public opinion on cannabis legalisation remains tied as the country’s election and referendum inches closer. Citizens will vote on the legalisation of cannabis and euthanasia as an extension of the general election in October.

Various sources have released results from polls recorded throughout the campaign. The results from these polls have varied, depending on their source and the time of data collection. The most recent polls on public opinion to the referendum have suggested that voters are more divided than ever, and the final result could be too close to call.

One of the polls, commissioned by the largest medical cannabis companies in New Zealand, Helius Therapeutics, claims that voters are literally split down the middle. According to the responses of 1,300 kiwis, 49.5% of voters support legalisation, 49.5% oppose it, and 1% gave no response either way. This marks the seventh in a series of surveys commissioned by Helius Therapeutics.

However, the poll found that the ‘No’ campaign may have the edge when results were limited to respondents who were both registered to vote and said that they were 100% likely to vote. In this case, 50.8% of respondents revealed that they would vote against cannabis legalisation, compared to 48.8% who would vote for it.

The poll also found that over 70% of respondents who had tried cannabis in the past would vote for legalisation.

Polls Show that New Zealand’s Cannabis Referendum is too Close to call

The poll results suggest that both campaigns will require a decisive move in order to tip the scale on results day. Many campaigners are still hoping that New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of the Labour party will reveal how she plans to vote in the referendum. However, Ms. Arden has so far refused to reveal her stance on legalisation, insisting “I don’t believe that my one vote will tip the decision, no”.

In a recent interview with drug policy advocacy organisation, Volteface, former New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark, stated:

“Prohibition is a problem. It is a problem because it criminalises people who use a very commonly used drug … Longitudinal studies in New Zealand suggest that up to 80% of people will use [cannabis] at some point in their lifetimes.”

Rt. Hon Helen Clark was Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1999 to 2008 and has been an outspoken advocate for cannabis legalisation in the country.

The Labour party has revealed that it has granted its MPs a conscience vote on both matters of the referendum. However, right-wing opposition party National has announced that all its MPs will vote against cannabis legalisation. The referendum on cannabis legalisation and euthanasia will take place alongside the general election on October 17th.

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