A second poll conducted by Katikati medicinal cannabis firm, Eqalis Pharmaceuticals, is demonstrating a misunderstanding amongst voters ahead of this week’s Cannabis Legalisation and Control referendum.
Only 23 per cent of voters polled understood that the referendum is about recreational cannabis only with the majority believing that access to medicinal cannabis was the core issue they were being asked to decide on.
The same poll conducted two months ago also showed the same percentage of Kiwis are confused.
With less than a week to go before election day, Greg Misson, managing director of Eqalis Pharmaceuticals says the poll results are deeply concerning.
“It’s a huge worry that New Zealanders really don't understand what they're voting for.
“Medicinal cannabis was legalised in New Zealand in March this year. Patients around the country can already access high quality, safe medicinal cannabis on prescription from their doctor. The referendum is definitely not about medical-grade cannabis."
The UMR poll also explored voters’ attitudes to the ‘grow-your-own’ regime proposed by the Bill, with results showing 58 per cent of voters do not think their fellow Kiwis know enough about cannabis to consume home-grown product and 45 per cent think we don’t know enough about cannabis to self-medicate rather than visit a doctor for a prescription.
While the poll shows the referendum vote still a close split with 41 per cent likely to vote for the Bill and 46 per cent against, Mission believes the lack of understanding means it would be difficult for the government to view the vote as a mandate to act.
“When over 75 per cent of voters don’t even understand the question, how can the government treat the referendum result with any seriousness?”
The most recent poll, conducted by UMR earlier this month, found that 22 per cent of voters mistakenly believe the referendum is solely about access to medicinal cannabis while nearly half of all voters believe the referendum is about access to both medicinal and recreational cannabis.
“We need to make it clear to voters that this referendum is about smoking weed, not about medicating patients,” says Misson.
“The referendum represents a chance for Kiwis to vote for something that may have severe social consequences for our society.
"While there are many therapeutic benefits of properly prescribed medicinal cannabis, the recreational use of weed has a number of serious psychoactive side-effects.”
The referendum asks New Zealanders to vote for or against the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill.
The Bill would make the recreational use of cannabis legal for adults over the age of 20 in certain restricted circumstances. In addition to allowing the sale of some cannabis products, the Bill would allow Kiwis to grow up to two cannabis plants for their own consumption.
Read more about the referendum here.