Most New Zealanders support decriminalising cannabis, poll suggests

By March 8, 2021 Recent News

NewsHub 9 March 2021
A new poll suggests most New Zealanders support decriminalising cannabis.

Just over 48 percent of voters supported legalising cannabis in a referendum held last year.

A poll conducted by market research firm UMR for the Helen Clark Foundation found an additional 20 percent voted no but said they think cannabis should be decriminalised. The poll was of 833 people who voted in the referendum; 49 percent were in favour of legalisation – mirroring the actual vote – while 30 percent thought the current law should stay the same or get tougher.

This makes a total of 69 percent who either supported legalisation or would support decriminalisation.

Foundation executive director Kathy Errington said this proved there was a strong public appetite for drug law change.

“The poll really shows how much New Zealand culture has changed in their attitude to drug policy and that we are, as a country, moving away from an approach to drugs that is rooted in criminal law and prohibition.”

She said decriminalising cannabis would achieve many of the health-related outcomes hoped for in the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill.

“It depends how you do it and the details will matter a lot but what it gets at is that one of the key injustices that hasn’t been resolved about our cannabis laws, which is the unequal burden of criminalisation, that still very much needs to be addressed.”

Errington said, in particular, the unequal impacts were worn by young people and Māori.

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