Majority of Kiwis still against legalising cannabis, according to latest 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll

Kiwis who were hoping they might soon be able to smoke cannabis legally might be out of luck, according to the latest 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll.

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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

Those polled were asked if they are planning on voting for cannabis to be legalised or to remain illegal at this year’s referendum:

Legalise: 40% (up 1 from February's poll)
Remain illegal: 49% (down 2)
Will not vote: 1%
Don't know/refused: 11% (down 2)

*Percentages do not add to 100% due to rounding. 

Sandra Murray of the Make It Legal campaign still believes most New Zealanders will vote yes in September.

"We’re quite confident that we’re going to win the referendum," she told 1 NEWS today.

"As people find out what’s in the bill they go ‘oh, that’s not such a big deal, yeah I can vote for that.'"

The spokesperson for Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) New Zealand, Aaron Ironside, which is running the Say Nope to Dope campaign, said "most Kiwi families know that legalisation is not a great idea".

"We’re quietly confident that this number (49 opposed) will continue through the referendum."

SAM New Zealand has taken its name from, and is working closely, with an American lobby group which opposes legal cannabis.

Smart Approaches to Marijuana US vice president Luke Niforatos told 1 NEWS he "strongly recommends New Zealanders vote no in this very misguided initiative".

Mr Niforatos said the US group has been helping its New Zealand partner where it can.

"We’ve been supplying a lot of information, speakers and other experts…we’ve not provided funding at this stage because there just hasn’t been a need at this point but we are fully partnered with this affiliate in New Zealand," he said. 

Ms Murray of Make it Legal says it’s inappropriate for a US lobby group to be involving itself in New Zealand’s referendum.

"We don’t think that US lobbyists should be interfering in New Zealand’s referendum, we think that the support and the funding and they lobbying tactics that come from the US aren’t really suitable for New Zealand.

"I don’t think that New Zealanders particularly like the idea of US interference and we’re certainly opposed to it."

Mr Ironside says SAM US is "only involved in as much in telling us what has happened elsewhere, where cannabis has been legalised and that really is the data that we need to understand".

Mr Niforatos said SAM US believes cannabis should be decriminalised.  

"Our organisation sees there’s this false dichotomy out there people think you either have to totally legalise it and create a for-profit market or throw everyone in prison for smoking a joint and the reality is there’s a false dichotomy.

"There is another way, we can decriminalise small possession, there’s no reason why a kid who has a joint in their pocket should have a life-long-record for drug use."

New Zealanders do not have the option of voting to decriminalise cannabis.

According to the poll, those more likely than average to be against legalising cannabis are National Party supporters and people aged 70 and over.

Those more likely than average to be for the legalisation of cannabis are Green and Labour Party supporters, people aged 18-29, Wellingtonians and Māori.

Between June 20 to 24, 2020, 1007 eligible voters were polled by landline (404) and mobile phone (603). The maximum sampling error is approximately ±3.1%-points at the 95% confidence level.

The data has been weighted to align with Stats NZ population counts for age, gender, region, ethnic identification and mobile or landline access.