Ahead of New Zealand’s September Referendum, Majority of Australians Now Support Legalising Cannabis

Australians want legal cannabis; New Zealand should too

A 2019 survey on drug use indicates the majority of Australians are now in support of legalising recreational cannabis use. The National Drug Strategy Household survey is conducted every 3 years, but while it consistently showed an increase in support for legalisation in the past, the latest results mark the first time that cannabis supporters outnumber the opposition.

Compared to 2016, when the National Drug Strategy survey showed only 36% of Australians supported cannabis legalisation, the 2019 results show 41% in support - a 5 percentage point increase. Those who oppose legalisation are now in the minority for the first time, at only 37% of respondents.

New Zealand’s September Referendum

 

National Drug Strategy Household survey indicates that more Australians now support cannabis legalisation (41%) than those who do not (37%). src

While recent New Zealand polls have shown a decline in support for cannabis legalisation, these latest Australian results are significant to the overall view on cannabis in the Oceania region. In this post, we discuss how this latest survey may apply to New Zealand’s upcoming September cannabis referendum.

Similar courses of action in Australia and New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand share many similarities in the Oceania region. While their views on cannabis use haven’t been entirely identical over the years, they have followed some comparable patterns.

In 2016, Australia legalised cannabis use for medical purposes. In 2018, New Zealand followed suite with a medical cannabis legalisaition announcement as well. And while the recreational conversation has been alive and well in Australia, it has been even louder here in New Zealand.

In fact, this upcoming September will place New Zealand as the first country in the world to place the question of national cannabis legalisation in the hands of her citizens via a referendum vote. Thus, New Zealand has now taken it a step beyond a conversation, and has actually drafted a final bill that will guide the legal parameters following the referendum, if Kiwis vote Yes to cannabis legalisation.

Surveys have shown support for cannabis legalisation in New Zealand over the years, but that support has declined in recent months 

While Australia and New Zealand have taken similar courses of action where cannabis is concerned, New Zealand has shown more support for legalising recreational cannabis over the last few years.

Over the years, Australians’ support for legalisation increased, but the majority always opposed the idea. In New Zealand, on the other hand, there has been outright support. In 2018, for instance, around 67% of New Zealanders said they would vote Yes for cannabis legalisation in the upcoming September referendum.

However, there has been a troubling turn of events. Just months later, in April of 2019, surveys showed that support had declined to 52%. By August of 2019, a 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll showed the numbers had flipped - 52% said they would vote No, while only 39% said they would vote Yes. The latest poll shows No votes at 51%.

Latest 1 News Colmar Burton

Latest 1 News Colmar Burton indicates the majority of New Zealand will vote against legalising recreational cannabis in September. src

But while recent polls have shown a significant decline in intended Yes votes for cannabis legalisation, the increase in support over the years were undeniably consistent. We must also note that recent polls focus on Yes/No questions concerning the referendum, and are hardly full blown studies and surveys on the matter of cannabis legalisation.

Australia’s National Drug Strategy Household survey, on the other hand, takes a more in depth look at the quesiton of cannabis legalisation. And with Australians and New Zealanders sharing similar paths over cannabis questions the past few years, perhaps the latest Australian survey may reflect similar views for Kiwis.

Final words- The September cannabis referendum is the real deal, not a survey - go out and vote!

While surveys are good indicators of a population’s views, they are subject to errors. The upcoming September referendum is the real deal, not a survey - your vote will determine just which way New Zealand will go when it comes to cannabis legalisation.

So far, a final bill has been publicized, outlining what a legal cannabis New Zealand will look like. Here are the relevant provisions

  • Only plants and seeds will be legal, initially (edibles might be approved later).
  • You must be 20 years or older to purchase and consume cannabis.
  • You can only purchase 14 grams of cannabis at a time, and grow a maximum of 2 plants (4 plants per household).
  • Cannabis products can’t contain more than 15% of THC (the higher the potency, the higher the tax).
  • Cannabis can only be used at private residences (at home) and in licensed premises like cannabis stores. No public smoking.
  • Those under the legal age of 20 who are caught with cannabis will face a fine or health-based response or education. No conviction will be recorded.
  • Those who sell to people under age 20, on the other hand, will face up to 4 years in jail, and selling to anyone without a licence could land you up to 2 years in jail.
  • Advertising cannabis products is prohibited.
  • Companies will have to choose between selling or growing cannabis - not both.
  • Companies will be limited on how much cannabis they can get from the national stock.
  • Imports and exports of cannabis will be prohibited. 

With recent polls showing an increasing opposition to cannabis legalisation in New Zealand, it is imperative that you go out there and vote Yes this September.