Government accuses big American anti-cannabis group of interfering in NZ politics

The Government is accusing a big US lobby group of interfering in New Zealand politics.

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Concerns have been raised following a 1 NEWS report last night in which the lobby group revealed its involvement in the looming referendum. Source: 1 NEWS

They've raised their concerns following a 1 NEWS report last night in which the lobby group revealed the role they are playing in our cannabis referendum here, telling Kiwis they need to vote no.

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is fighting legal cannabis across the US.

“I would strongly recommend New Zealanders vote no on this very misguided initiative,” SAM’s Luke Niforatos told 1 NEWS.

The lobby group now has a branch here in New Zealand.

“We're very pleased and excited to announce that the opposition group in New Zealand is taking on an affiliation with SAM - we've been supplying a lot of information speakers and other experts,” Mr Niforatos said.

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The gap has narrowed in cannabis referendum voting in the latest 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll as a powerful American lobby group joins the debate. Source: 1 NEWS

Some of our politicians think that's disturbing.

“I'm just not enthusiastic for foreign interests to be interfering in domestic policy,” National’s Shane Reti told 1 NEWS.

The Green Party’s Chlöe Swarbrick agrees.

“When it comes to international interference and the importing of scaremongering and rhetoric, I think all of us should be concerned.”

The US branch of SAM says it hasn't started funding the Kiwi branch at this stage.

The public can vote for cannabis to be legalised or to remain illegal at this year’s referendum on September 19.