Polls on cannabis

Henry Cooke at Stuff reports:

Already that lobby is hard at work. This week Family First released a “shock poll” from reputable company Curia, with just 18 per cent of respondents supporting “lifting restrictions” of cannabis for recreational use. This was drastically less than the 65 per cent of people in a poll from the same company in 2017 who supported it being either legalised or decriminalised for personal use.

A few things explain this. One is the fact that the Family First poll also included a bunch of questions likely to make anyone think twice about relaxing cannabis rules like: “Are tobacco companies pushing for cannabis legalisation?” and “Do you think that drivers using cannabis are more likely or less likely to cause accidents?”.
The other is the question. “Personal” and “recreational” are very different words. Family First didn’t let voters pick and choose between decriminalisation and legalisation, as the earlier poll did, it simply asked if people wanted the Government to “Lift restrictions for recreational use”, alongside another more popular option to “Lift restrictions for medical but not recreational use”.
This poll doesn’t deliver the knockout blow to proponents of legalisation that Family First might have hoped. But it does show us two things: that the campaign is going to matter a lot and that the wording of the question will too.

This is very astute analysis. The two polls (both done by Curia) show that people respond different ways to how questions are framed, and what they are focused on. If people are thinking about whether people should be criminalised for personal cannabis use, they tend to say no. If people are thinking about the harmful effects of cannabis, they tend to be more cautious.

Until the Government comes up with a specific proposal and wording, it would be a brave person who predicts the outcome in advance.

The Green Party confidence and supply agreement read “legalisation” not “decriminalisation” – so this won’t be a case of police looking the other way. But legalisation is different everywhere, from state monopolies in Uruguay to big business commercialism in the US. Kiwis will demand a real idea of what path we will be going down, especially as the vote will likely be binding.
Getting the details out in the open could see some supporters fall away as their preferred option is ruled out. On the other hand, it stops the anti-legalisation lobby from filling the void with suggestions every seven-year-old is going to be able to buy a joint at the corner dairy. 

I don’t favour state monopolies in anything!

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