New Zealand split on legalising cannabis in ‘reeferendum’

News

Support for the Yes and No campaigns in New Zealand’s referendum on legalising and taxing cannabis is split at 49.5% each, six weeks out from voting day.

The No campaign, which aims to keep the status quo, has a slight edge in the poll by news outlet Stuff when only registered voters are counted, leading 50.8% to 48.4%. Voting and being on the electoral roll is optional in New Zealand.

The “reeferendum” is being held alongside a similar referendum on euthanasia at the national election on 17 October.

The new poll, of 1,300 voters, shows the closeness of the debate. Previous polls linked to major TV networks have shown the No vote ahead, while most online polls show the opposite.

The vote is being held at the behest of the Greens, which made the referendum a condition of their support for Jacinda Ardern’s Labour-led government in 2017.

Ardern has refused to be drawn on which way she will vote, and has a neutral history on the topic. That’s drawn the ire of campaigners, hoping the country’s most popular politician might intervene to tip the ballot their way.

Labour has offered its MPs a conscience vote while opposition National MPs are all voting against it.