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Internal Green poll suggests cannabis vote will go to the wire

An internal Green Party poll suggests that advance voters are more likely to oppose cannabis legalisation. Alex Braae reports. 

Internal Green Party polling provided to The Spinoff suggests that the massive number of advance votes are running against legalising cannabis, but it’s likely to be close. 

The poll, conducted between October 9-12, asked people if the election was held tomorrow how they would vote on the Cannabis Legalisation and Control bill. 

The poll did not ask any of the respondents how they had voted. However, out of the 1,286 people asked, 278 people said they had already voted. 

Of that second group, 50% said they did not support the bill, compared to 47% in favour. In the other group of 1,008 people who had not yet voted, 45% supported the bill, 41% were opposed, and 14% were undecided. 

As of October 12 when the polling fieldwork finished, 1.15 million people had cast an advance vote. 

Recent polling on the issue has swung wildly between a narrow win for legalisation, and a heavy defeat. UMR had a 49-45% result in favour, while Horizon had a poll showing 52-47 in favour.

In contrast, Colmar Brunton had a margin of 35% in favour compared to 53% against, and Reid Research polling showed 38% in favour, with 50.5% against. 

The internal poll was conducted online using sample-weighting. Both of the Colmar Brunton and Reid Research polls included landlines.

Chloë Swarbrick speaking at NZ Drug Foundation Parliamentary Conference in 2017 (Image: Tim Onnes)

Green party drug reform spokesperson Chlöe Swarbrick said the poll showed the importance of turnout on the final results. 

“For a while now we’ve known that this referendum will be decided on turnout. Criminal prohibition will remain in force if we do not get everyone to the polls,” said Swarbrick. 

“People need to understand how critical their vote is – nothing will change if you don’t participate. If you’re frustrated with politics as it is, don’t tap out and let it continue. Somebody out there needs your Yes.”

Aaron Ironside from Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which is campaigning against the referendum, said that internal polls conducted by his organisation suggested No was winning by a larger margin than what the internal Green poll would suggest. 

“Certainly it did appear that there was a small narrowing of the gap, although that was following the gap getting a fair bit larger, so the overall effect is a consistent trend with the no vote being larger, both in internal polling and independent polling.” 

He added that his organisation also wants to see a large turnout, because “we want to make sure that we get a clear signal.”

“The last thing we want is for the vote to be so close that the government decides that it’s an undecided outcome, we want to send a clear signal that the answer is no – not in favour of the status quo, but insisting that we explore better answers than the draft legislation.” 

If the referendum wins, it will still have to go through a parliamentary process before becoming law. 

Among politicians, opinion is split largely across party lines. Green Party MPs have come out in favour of legalisation, while Judith Collins has said that all National Party MPs will be voting against the bill. 

PM Jacinda Ardern has not commented on how she’ll be voting, however several individual Labour MPs have come out in favour. 



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