The weekend’s victory for Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick in the Auckland Central electorate bodes well for a yes vote in the upcoming cannabis referendum results, according to some commentators.

Swarbrick is the Green Party’s drug reform spokesperson and a prominent supporter of cannabis legalisation.

The young MP argues that voting in favour of the Bill supports the implementation of restrictions and a regulatory framework to ensure greater safety for communities and young people, rather than supporting the illegal cannabis market.

Despite the most recent polls erring in favour of a no vote, Swarbrick’s shock victory has sparked conjecture that it is not a foregone conclusion. 

Dr Lara Greaves, an Auckland University lecturer in New Zealand politics and public policy, said a yes vote is still possible.

“We know left-wing voters are more likely to be pro-cannabis and young people are more likely to be pro-cannabis. Potentially [Swarbrick’s win] suggests that, but we’ll have to wait and see.”

The results of the latest Newshub Reid-Research Poll revealed that the majority of Kiwis had, or were planning to, vote ‘no’ in the referendum.

The poll asked participants: ‘Do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill?’

  • 55.6% said ‘no’ (+5.1 points on the September 30 poll)
  • 38.3% said ‘yes’ (+0.4 points)
  • 5.7% ‘didn’t know’ (-5.2 points)
  • 0.4% said they wouldn’t vote (-0.8 points).

If the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill passes in its current form, New Zealanders aged 20 and over will be able to purchase a maximum of 14 grams of cannabis from a licensed retailer per day. The Bill also proposes restrictions on THC potency, as well as the regulation of cannabis quality. 

People aged 20 and over will be able to grow up to two plants, with a maximum of four plants per household, and will be allowed to consume cannabis on private property or at licensed premises. Health warnings will be required on packaging and at the time of purchase.

If more than 50% of people have voted ‘yes’ in the referendum, recreational cannabis will not become legal immediately. After securing its second term at the weekend, the Labour Government would introduce a Bill to Parliament to legalise and control cannabis. This process would include the opportunity for the public to share their thoughts and ideas on how the law might work.

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