New Zealand cannabis referendum

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The New Zealand cannabis referendum will be held sometime during the term of the 52nd New Zealand Parliament on the question of whether to legalise recreational cannabis use.[1][2]


In December 2016, the Green Party said that if it formed a government in the 2017 election it would legalise cannabis. "Under its proposal, people would be able to legally grow and possess marijuana for personal use". The party would also "urgently amend the law so sick people using medicinal marijuana were not penalised".[3][4][5]

Current laws

Cannabis use is currently controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. Possession of any amount of cannabis is currently illegal in New Zealand. The maximum sentence for possession of cannabis is imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months or a $500 fine.[6] Cultivation of cannabis carries a maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment.[7] The only exception to these laws is the prescription of medicinal cannabis. Approved cannabis-based pharmaceuticals can be prescribed by a specialist doctor, but requires patients to meet strict criteria. As of April 2016, only Sativex is approved for use in New Zealand; it is not subsidised, so patients must pay the full retail cost.[8]

Opinion polls and surveys

Many polling organisations ask New Zealanders questions related to cannabis legislation. Support for law reform around cannabis has been increasing in New Zealand in recent years.[9][10][11] These numbers tend to trend higher around support for medicinal use.[10] When voting age New Zealanders were asked in July 2017 if they supported "Growing and/or using cannabis for medical reasons if you have a terminal illness", 59% responded that it should be legal, 22% supported decriminalisation, while 15% responded it should be illegal. However when they were asked their thoughts on "Possessing a small amount of cannabis for personal use", 37% responded that it should be decriminalised, 31% responded that it should be illegal, and 28% responded that it should be fully legal.[10]

Opinion polls leading up to the referendum are listed in the table below. Percentages may not add to 100 percent due to rounding. Margin of error varies from poll to poll.

Individual polls

Date Polling organisation Sample size For Against Undecided Lead
2–17 Jul 2018 Curia Market Research 943 49 47 3 2


No Vote

See also


  1. ^ "New Zealand to hold cannabis referendum". BBC News. Retrieved 23 October 2017. 
  2. ^ "We could see legalised marijuana and free university under New Zealand's new PM". 21 October 2017. Retrieved 23 October 2017. 
  3. ^ "Legal cannabis in NZ? Green Party offers green light to pot smokers". Retrieved 23 October 2017. 
  4. ^ "Drug Law Reform Policy". 12 April 2016. Retrieved 23 October 2017. 
  5. ^ Phipps, Claire; Roy, Eleanor Ainge (23 September 2017). "NZ First's Winston Peters kingmaker in New Zealand hung parliament – as it happened". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 September 2017. 
  6. ^ Section 7(2)(b) Misuse of Drugs Act 1975
  7. ^ "Possession and use of controlled drugs". Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 No 116 (as at 08 September 2011), Public Act. Wellington, New Zealand: New Zealand Parliamentary Counsel Office/Te Tari Tohutohu Pāremata. 8 September 2011. Section 7(2). Retrieved 26 February 2012. 
  8. ^ "New Zealand Consumer Medical Information – Sativex, Oral spray" (PDF). New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority. Retrieved 3 November 2011. 
  9. ^ Newshub (20 August 2017). "Support for cannabis reform getting higher". Newshub. Retrieved 1 November 2017. 
  10. ^ a b c Jones, Nicholas (19 August 2017). "National voters, wider public back cannabis law reform: poll". NZ Herald. Retrieved 1 November 2017. 
  11. ^ "Support for cannabis law reform remains high in 2017". NZ Drug Foundation. 19 August 2017. Retrieved 1 November 2017. 
  12. ^
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