Interviews of over 50,000 Australians show cannabis legalisation views
New Roy Morgan research results show increasing support for cannabis legalisation amongst Australians, although those who are against legalisation are still the majority. The results, drawn from in-depth face-to-face interviews of over 50,000 Australians, also shed some light on the profile of those likely to support legal marijuana, as well as those likely to oppose the idea.
With the 2020 referendum just around the corner, the cannabis conversation is just as alive here in New Zealand as anywhere else — perhaps even more. New Zealand has chosen a unique approach to the question of whether cannabis should be legalised, by putting the matter to vote.
A cannabis legalisation referendum has never taken place on a national level anywhere in the world — New Zealand will be the first. By putting the decision in the people’s hands, polls regarding how people view cannabis legalisation are more important to predicting the outcome as ever. Such polls are also important in figuring out what groups need to be educated more on the harmless nature of cannabis, in order to garner more “Yes” votes.
Australia’s recent poll may be helpful in that regard. It suggests a continued trend towards cannabis legalisation support and may just reflect the views of the Oceania region, albeit likely more tempered than the views of New Zealanders in particular.
What can we draw from the Roy Morgan study?
According to Roy Morgan, the typical cannabis supporter is a young male who lives alone and doesn’t have children. He’s likely progressive and is sympathetic towards environmentalist views.
Roy Morgan places the typical cannabis supporter in the Socially Aware value segment, which suggests the person likely:
- Has a strong sense of social responsibility;
- Is good at convincing others with their views;
- Gets involved with pressure groups, eventually;
- Is a public servant, politician, or researcher.
The results of the research also broke down support and opposition of legalisation amongst age groups.
It shows that the majority of cannabis supporters are between 18 and 34 years of age. Back in 2015, only 36% of those aged 18 to 34 supported cannabis legalisation; that number has now jumped 14% points to 50%. Likewise, only 34% of those aged 25 to 34 supported cannabis legalisation back in 2015; that number has now jumped 12% points to 45%. Both age groups saw 10% declines in opposition to legal cannabis.
In fact, although these particular groups stood out as the chief supporters of cannabis reform, we also learned that cannabis support increased in all age groups, while opposition to the idea decreased. Amongst all Australians, 42% now support legalisation (up 9% points) while 49% oppose it (down 7%).
The results suggest the typical anti-legalisation person is an older, retired woman. She typically falls into Roy Morgan’s Traditional Family Life value segment:
- Strong family focus;
- Eager for family visits, babysitting, weekend BBQs, etc.;
- Believes crime is a big problem in their community;
- Against globalisation;
- Strong believer in government’s ability to make the right decisions.
The elderly, aged 65 and over, are still strong opponents to cannabis legalisation, with 58% saying “No” to legalisation and only 33% saying “Yes”. However, even amongst this group, support has increased by 7% points while those against dropped 4% points.
Could this reflect New Zealand’s views as well?
Australia isn’t New Zealand, but the depth of this latest research could give us an idea on the typical “Yes” and “No” voters. We know that most “Yes” votes will likely come from young adults, while most “No” votes will likely come from the elderly. Perhaps this can be viewed as a universal trend.
However, there was one surprising group: Teenagers aged 14 to 17. No other age group said “No” to legal cannabis as much as this group, and it’s quite shocking. Although, again, their opposition to the idea reduced from 2015 levels, and support increased. Whatever the reasons for this group’s position, their views aren’t relevant right now — they are too young to vote on any cannabis issues, especially one that legalises the drug.
New Zealand may also be a lot more progressive on this issue than Australia. Around a year ago, 60% of Kiwis said they would vote “Yes” to cannabis legalisation, and support was evidently high across party lines.
However, there has been a significant turn in recent months. As recent as April of this year, the proportion of New Zealanders in support of legalisation had dropped to 52%. More troubling was an even further drop to 39% in August, according to a survey carried out by Horizon Research. Another poll by 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton show eerily similar numbers — 39% in support, and 52% against.
These recent New Zealand polls show just how delicate the cannabis discussion can be. As New Zealand’s cannabis support numbers seem to have dropped significantly, it seems a correction of some sort is taking place, reflecting that the Australian Roy Morgan research results do, in fact, reflect the views of the Oceania region in general.
What’s more important to note is the fact that the Roy Morgan profiles of who’s more likely for and against legalisation in Australia match the same profiles drawn by both the Horizon Research poll and the 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll for Kiwis. So what can be done with such information? Targeting. These polls and studies tell the interested parties who they need to focus on to ensure their side of the argument is victorious at the end. Many obviously still believe cannabis is an entirely dangerous drug and those Kiwis can be educated on the real facts of the crop — a move that could help change their views and make a “Yes” vote on the 2020 referendum even more likely.
With the 2020 referendum around the corner, both proponents and opponents of cannabis legalisation will be launching campaigns for or against the legalisation idea. It’s important to take note of polls and research that give an idea of who is likely to vote “Yes” and “No”, in order to know where educational resources on the true facts about cannabis should be directed. Roy Morgan’s poll on Australian’s cannabis support views does just that, and might reflect some similar profiles of voters here in New Zealand.