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More Kiwis voted for cannabis legalisation than for National, MP Chlöe Swarbrick says in renewed push for reform

More Kiwis voted for cannabis legalisation than for National but we're "not no longer hearing from them", Greens MP Chlöe Swarbrick said today as she continues to push for a shake-up of New Zealand's "Frankenstein law" on drugs. 

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The Greens MP wants to try different approaches to shake up New Zealand's "Frankenstein law" and deal with drug harm. Source: Breakfast

At last year's election, the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill failed by a narrow margin, with 51.7 per cent of those voting no and 48.4 per cent voting yes.

Labour immediately declared it a dead issue "for the foreseeable future".

But a new poll released by the Helen Clark Foundation this morning suggests there may be a life in it yet, with the combination of those who favour legalisation or decriminalisation coming to a total of 69 per cent.

Swarbrick this morning told Breakfast the poll shows New Zealanders are in favour of reform on the country's current drug laws.

"What we also know is that the referendum was on a very narrow, very niche proposed piece of legislation and we know that that failed on a very slim margin," she said.

"By no means does that mean that this conversation goes into a box and into the never never. It means that it needs to continue moving forward.

"More New Zealanders voted in favour of cannabis regulation than voted for the National Party and we're not no longer hearing from them. In fact, what this demonstrates for us is that we need to continue moving forward the conversation that is sensibly informed about how we reduce drug harm in this country, and that's exactly what this poll shows."

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Cannabis decriminalisation favoured by majority of National, ACT, Labour and Greens supporters, poll finds

In the UMR poll, participants were asked how they voted in last year’s referendum.

Those who voted no were then asked which option describes best what changes they would like to see to New Zealand's cannabis laws: Cannabis should be decriminalised but not legalised, current law and level of enforcement should stay the same, more cannabis offences should be taken to court and other or unsure.

Overall, 69 per cent either supported the bill or would support decriminalisation.

For National Party supporters surveyed, 52 per cent supported legalisation or decriminalisation, with 47 per cent saying the law should stay the same or be tougher.

Fifty-one per cent of ACT supporters were in favour of legalisation or decriminalisation, with 49 per cent saying the law should stay the same or be tougher.

Labour supporters had 81 per cent support for legalisation or decriminalisation, with 18 per cent saying the law should stay the same or be tougher.

The Greens had 93 per cent supporting legalisation or decriminalisation, with seven per cent saying the law should stay the same or be tougher.

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Of those surveyed by the Helen Clark Foundation, 69 per cent are now in support of the bill. Source: Breakfast

"I've been seeking to draw the focus, as it should have been from the get-go, on the demonstrably unfit for purpose Misuse of Drugs Act 1975," Swatrbrick said of her work in Parliament over the past few months.

When asked if she wanted to bypass another referendum, Swarbrick said she wanted politicians to "do the right thing" and follow evidence.

"Politicians should do their job," she said.

"They should engage with the controversy, the complexity and the nuance and they should see here represented that yes, absolutely, a slim majority of New Zealanders voted against a very narrow, very niche proposed piece of law that was 160-odd pages in length — that doesn't mean the issue goes away.

"It means that those people, the majority of New Zealanders, that slim majority, voted against a very narrow, very niche proposed change to the law. That means that we can try different approaches, it means that we still have to deal with the issue of drug harm in this country and that's my focus."