Vote Compass: 51% against legalising marijuana

New Zealand has some of the highest cannabis consumption rates in the world yet the majority of people surveyed by Vote Compass say they don't want marijuana legalised.

Despite New Zealand’s high cannabis consumption rate, the bulk of those surveyed do not want it legalised. Source: 1 NEWS

They also want the drinking age pushed up to 20.

According to the United Nations, New Zealand has the eighth highest cannabis consumption level in the world after countries like Papua New Guinea, Zambia and Canada.

Vote Compass asked people whether they think "marijuana should be legalised".

Fifty-one percent of respondents disagree or strongly disagree it should be legalised, 33% said it should be, and 15% were neutral.

Danny Osborne, a lecturer in political psychology at Auckland University, says damage done by legal highs might help explain the results.

"One of the things that might potentially explain this is the recent reports that we've been seeing over the last couple of years showing that synthetic drugs, and synthetic marijuana in particular, have been wreaking havoc on a lot of New Zealanders lives," he says.

Drinking age

Two years ago, in a conscience vote, MPs decided to keep the drinking age at 18, despite a call from the Law Commission to raise it.

The Conservative, Maori and Mana parties and New Zealand First want the drinking age to return to 20.

Vote Compass asked: "How old should Kiwis be before they are allowed to purchase alcohol?"

Nearly two thirds, 64%, say they want the age to be older or much older, 34% want the age about the same as now and just 2% want it lowered.

"A lot of people have been personally affected by problems caused by drinking and it's become quite a problem in New Zealand. So this might be pushing back," Mr Osborne says.

And this question also exposed a generation gap. More than half of 18 to 34-year-olds want the drinking age to remain the same, but less than a quarter of those 55 or older agree.

The findings are based on 136,235 respondents to Vote Compass from August 17-September 3. Though Vote Compass is not a poll, respondent data are weighted using the latest census data to approximate a representative sample of the New Zealand population.