Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick has claimed New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s refusal to back the yes vote in last year’s cannabis referendum tipped the balance in favour of the no campaign.

Chlöe_Swarbrick
Chlöe Swarbrick

Ardern refused to say which way she intended to vote in the cannabis and euthanasia referenda until after the polls closed in October 2020, at which point she revealed she had voted yes in both

Swarbrick told Stuff Ardern’s support could have made a “massive difference” to the result, which went 48.4% for legalisation and 50.7% against. 

Her claim comes after researchers at Massey University found Ardern’s self-imposed neutrality could have been the decisive factor in the result.

Swarbrick said it was unhelpful for her to be the only one in parliament pushing for change because the close association of one person with any political issue can end up being a proxy for how popular they are.

She added: “To be totally frank, I didn’t anticipate that this would be something that was shouldered entirely by one politician or one political party.”

She also slammed the Nationals for backing the no campaign, accusing the party of “selling drug users and people who are experiencing addiction down the river”.

Prior to launching Cannabiz, Martin was co-founder and CEO of Asia-Pac’s leading B2B media and marketing information brand Mumbrella, overseeing its sale to Diversified Communications in 2017. A journalist...