Jacinda Ardern outlines priorities for cannabis reform, regardless of whether referendum passes

One day out from election day, Labour's Jacinda Ardern is still holding her cannabis referendum vote close to her chest. But she did outline her "issues and concerns" around cannabis today, and what she thinks should be achieved whatever the outcome. 

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The Labour leader has refused to reveal how she voted in the referendum. Source: 1 NEWS

The first priority, she said, would be to ensure "young people do not end up damaging themselves as a result of access, because that is what I saw as a young person".

"Second, I don't want to see people unnecessarily criminalised. Whatever outcome, that’s what I think we should be looking to achieve."

National's Judith Collins has been open about voting 'no' in the referendum - while the rest of her party has also pledged to follow her in the 'no' camp on the cannabis referendum. 

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Topics covered by Ardern and Judith Collins included Covid-19, the economy, and cannabis. Source: Breakfast

Last month, Collins told a crowd in Matamata she was voting against, adding people did not want "two or three tinny houses" on their street.

"Every member of the National Party have agreed to vote against it."

The latest 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll last night showed an increase in support for the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill, but more people were still against the bill. 

It found 41 per cent were for the bill, a jump of six percentage points since September, and 51 per cent were against, a fall of two percentage points. An additional eight per cent did not know, a decrease of three percentage points.  

The groups of people who were more likely than average to support the bill were Green and Labour Party supporters, people aged 18-29 and Māori. 

Those more likely than average to not support the bill was National supporters and people aged 55 and over. 

The preliminary results for the referendum will not come out until October 30. 

Collins challenged Ardern to reveal her voting intentions on cannabis on August 11, with Ardern saying at the time the referendum "has been designed for the public to decide".

Collins said National supported medicinal cannabis but not recreational use and sale.

Ardern was asked today if Labour would consider decriminalisation of cannabis as an alternative, if the legalisation effort failed but the party returned to power. 

"Only if it is considered in the public interest to do so," she said. "What I am interested in doing is looking at the circumstances of the way that the change of law is happening now. Is it meeting our expectations?"

Currently, the draft bill sets out that only people aged 20 and older could access cannabis.

It would also control the production and supply of cannabis with rules for restricting access, growing and consumption, licensing requirements, taxes, levies and fees.

Licensed premises would be allowed to sell cannabis, but it could only be consumed on site or in a private residence. Consumption in public places would be prohibited, and online or remote sales of cannabis would not be allowed.