Legalization Support Shrinks In New Zealand as Referendum Nears

New Zealand voters appear to be turning away from cannabis legalization, according to the latest poll which found just 35 percent of respondents supported the reforms.

Full story after the jump.

Support for cannabis legalization in New Zealand appears to be dwindling as a recent 1 News/Colmar Brunton poll found 35 percent supported the reforms, down from 40 percent in June, 39 percent in February, and 43 percent in November 2019. The poll found 53 percent oppose legalization in the country, up from 49 percent in June and 51 percent in February. 

Another poll conducted by Horizon Poll last month found support split 49.5 percent to 49.5 percent. Previously, the firm found 56 percent support in June (43 percent opposed), 54 percent support in February (45 percent opposed) and 48 percent support in November 2019 with 38 percent opposed. The 49.5 percent opposition is the highest level seen by the company since it started asking the question in November 2018 – when support was 60 percent and opposition was just 24 percent, with 16 percent undecided.  

New Zealanders will vote on the issue October 17 in a non-binding referendum. If approved, lawmakers will move forward with the legalization plan that would set the consumption age at 20, allow ‘coffee shops,’ permit personal cultivation up to two plants – four per household – and set purchase limits at 14 grams.      

As the referendum looms, 60 New Zealanders – including former Prime Minister Helen Clarke – have launched a campaign urging support for the reforms. 

“I think there’s everything to play for with this one. If you averaged out all the polls, it’s a tough race but it’s doable.” — Clarke to the Guardian

The opposition group – Smart Approaches to Marijuana NZ – said they will spend the electoral limit of NZ$300,000 plus tax on their campaign to defeat the referendum.

A report commissioned by the Ministry of Justice authored by BRML suggests New Zealand could see NZ$1.4 billion annually from legalized cannabis along with 5,000 new jobs.

During a debate this week, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern admitted to having smoked cannabis “a long time ago.” She stopped short, however, of endorsing legalization reforms.

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