While MP Julie Anne Genter and the Green Party of New Zealand work feverishly to pass a bill which will legalize medical marijuana, a recent poll in the Kiwi nation shows broad support for cannabis legalization.
The New Zealand Drug Foundation commissioned a survey to ask New Zealand voters for their opinion on drug reform ahead of the upcoming federal elections in September. The majority of respondents, 65 percent, supported either the decriminalization or legalization of cannabis.
Support is even higher for the medical use of cannabis, with only 17 percent of surveyed voters wanting medical marijuana to remain illegal.
Another positive aspect of the legalization survey is that support for marijuana reform is not limited to one political party or viewpoint.
The National Party is the leading political group within the country and 60 percent of their supporters want to see the legalization (22%) or decriminalization (38%) of cannabis. Voters within the New Zealand First Party support relaxed cannabis laws as well with 68 percent in favor, while 68 percent of Labour Party voters would like to see cannabis reform.
Green Party voters show the most support by far with 92 percent of surveyed voters supporting decriminalization or legalization.
Ross Bell is the Executive Director of the New Zealand Drug Foundation and he said the poll showed that Kiwis clearly want a change.
“The current system is broken,” he said. “Getting a criminal conviction for possessing cannabis ruins people’s lives and creates huge downstream costs for society.” Bell added that a regulated approach will help with product quality, price and availability. It will also bring more education, prevention, and treatment.
Most of the political parties in New Zealand are looking for cannabis reform. The Green Party backs full legalization and the Maori Party is looking for decriminalization. As well, the Labour, United Future, and Act New Zealand parties are all in support of MP Julie Anne Genter’s medical cannabis bill.
Regardless of what his voters want, Prime Minister Bill English of the National Party stated that there were no plans to decriminalize cannabis, saying the plant caused harm and should remain illegal. Kiwis will have the chance to show their opposition to this opinion at the upcoming elections on September 23.
Photo courtesy of Allie Beckett