Medical marijuana would be sold alongside the Marjoram




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The poll was conducted by UMR from 29th July to 17th August 2016, for Start The Conversation, a group representing cannabis and community activists, researchers and policy analysts throughout New Zealand, including NORML, Helen KellyProf Max AbbottDr Geoff NollerThe Cannabis PartyMedical Cannabis Awareness NZIt’s Medicine (Rose Renton), MildGreens and more. 

Start The Conversation organised a cannabis debate at the Auckland Town Hall in June, which led to this poll, and is holding its next community forum in Whangarei on Saturday 17th September. The UMR poll will be used by the group to decide whether to proceed with organising a cannabis law reform referendum to coincide with next year’s general election.

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76 per cent agreed when asked “Should Parliament change the laws of New Zealand so that patients have safe legal access to affordable medicinal cannabis and cannabis products when prescribed by a licensed doctor?”

Only 12 per cent were opposed to this law change – including just 15 per cent of National Party voters – with a further 12 per cent undecided. 

That’s right – only 15 per cent of National voters agree with their leader John Key that we should deny showing compassion to medicinal users and there should be no law change. Only 15 per cent!

Respondents were also asked “Should Parliament change the laws of New Zealand so that natural cannabis and medicinal cannabis products are treated as herbal remedies when used therapeutically?”

This was supported by 61 per cent of respondents, opposed by 24 per cent, with 15 per cent undecided.

The big take home from this poll is that support for medicinal cannabis does not collapse when the proposed model treats medicinal cannabis like a herbal remedy rather than a pharmaceutical. 

Four out of five supporters of a strict approach that requires a doctor’s prescription would also support having medicinal cannabis sold as a herbal remedy at health food stores.

I had a hand in formulating the questions. We chose the two variations to test support for medicinal cannabis law reform and to see how far we could go in a referendum question. 

I’m not surprised there was such strong support for an approach that would classify natural medicinal cannabis as a herbal remedy, allowing it to be obtained from health food stores, because it’s what we are hearing on the street and in social media.

This solid depth of support was also shown in the recent NZ Drug Foundation Curia poll, where support for medicinal cannabis when limited to patients with a terminal illness was 82 per cent, but only dropped three per cent if it was allowed for “any medical condition”.

Contrary to what Peter Dunne and his National Party bosses say, most people want  to show compassion and believe patients should have safe legal access to medicinal cannabis, whether that be for a terminal illness or simply to feel better. 

The recent Curia poll revealed 65 per cent want cannabis either decriminalised or made legal.

This new UMR poll shows a healthy majority want natural cannabis treated as a herbal remedy, and made easily available at health food stores, when it is used therapeutically.

John Key thinks cannabis law reform sends the wrong message, but this poll shows NORML’s message is getting through.

Most New Zealanders now know cannabis is not only safer than alcohol but is also an effective remedy for a variety of conditions, and they want the law to change now. 

The message John Key needs to hear is that very few people support the status quo, including National Party voters, and he ignores them at his own peril.



  1. ‘Only 12 per cent were opposed to this law change – including just 15 per cent of National Party voters – with a further 12 per cent undecided…’

    so why do we need a (non-binding) referendum…?

    • it would be instructive to get a reply to that basic question of ‘why a non-binding) referendum’..?

      why/how is that not just a useless/waste of time/energies/resources..?

      ..all it would tell us what we already know – that most new zealanders favour ending the (economic) madness that is cannabis prohibition..

      (..they aren’t dumb – they have seen how it works so well in colorado etc..)

      so beyond that – confirming what we already know from polling – what would be the/any benefits be..?

      ‘cos for the life of me – i can’t see one…

      ..and think that time/energy should be spent lobbying mp’s/political-parties – underlined by more polling.

      ..this i see as the best way forward on this issue..

      ..the referendum-idea is a dead-end alley..

      ..and is bordering on bone-headed..

      • gee mr fowlie..!’s been a couple of days now..

        any chance of a reply to that most basic/bleeding-obvious of questions..?

        in two words: referendum – why..?

        (i’m not asking you to explain particle-physics – you are advocating this what i think is a gobsmackingly time-wasting/expensive/useless/bad idea..)

        ..and you can’t won’t even answer ‘why?’..


        • Phil, we have the option of treating this poll as de-facto legalization, but most reformers want to go further and actually have legislation passed telling the cops to back off the cannabis culture. Confirming or improving on these results in a binding referendum held by the same body that holds our governmental elections makes it that much more official. The politicians that vote for the bill that legalizes and regulates, can point out that the people have spoken, and they are just following their lead as representatives ought to.

          Also, it’s another network of people making sure pro-legalization voters are on the electoral role and ready to vote for change. Many don’t sign up out of fear their details will be delivered to someone sinister, and it takes quite an effort to get your name on the unpublished roll if you have privacy concerns. This has been discussed elsewhere on TDB.

          • strpey..thanks for replying –

            – if it were a binding referendum i would be gung ho in support..

            ..but it is not…therefore it is a huge black hole of cost/energy/time…and can just be ignored..

            how will any end result be any different from a much cheaper batch of polls..?

            maybe even a couple of years ago i wd have supported a referendum – but that horse has now bolted..and we don’t need the vehicle of the referendum to publicise/ argue the case..

            that/this is already done….

   it is full-steam ahead for full legalisation/cannabis-clubs/whatever…

            i repeat..a referendum is to test/gauge the public mood on a particular issue…

            ..we already know that mood – and that mood is for change – now…

            this is why a referendum is just going over old/already tilled ground – and that is why i feel it is a bad idea..

   fact a referendum plays right into the prohibitionists hands – another period of no change..another delay..

   end up with a non-binding referendum result…

            ..which would just again bring us back to where we already are now..(i wd submit that would be an example of madness..)

            ..and that further delay is not good/soon enough for the lady with cancer (not a relative..) that i find myself forced to help…

   deny her would be inhumane…

            (and she is one of the lucky ones – she has me..i feel for those that don’t have a ‘me’..and are forced to just suffer..are denied access to this proven salve to their miseries..)

            ..and this is the true evil of prohibition/prohibitionists..

            ..people suffering here/now/today – that don’t need to be…

            ..a referendum only extends that delay/misery..

  2. The banning of synthetics happened due to street protests.
    This may be be the easiest way forward from here.
    Countrywide matches in every main center demanding law reform.

    Thing is, most pot marches in UnZed are a small motley bunch with most weed supporters avoiding being seen at all due to careers and legal consequences, so maybe that wont work.

    It seems where are now at the final hurdle.

    • what dunne is trying to do is capture the weed market for big-pharma – with his demanding of ‘proven pharmeceutical medicines’.

      (this of course fits in well with dunnes’ work over the decades for big-booze and big-tobacco..)

      both alcohol and big-pharma have much to fear from legal cannabis..

      ..alcohol consumption has dropped in colorado..(+ drops in violence/domestic violence esp…)

      ..and with weed – with the different types producing different reactions – ranging from from enervating-energy – to a desire to curl up and go to sleep – much of big=pharmas’ product is challenged/bettered by this humble miracle-weed..

      ..who needs big-pharmas’ addictive ‘anxiety-meds’ when chosen strains of cannabis will take care of that..?

      ..who needs addictive sleeping pills when a knock-out-pot puff of a somnambulant strain will do the same trick..?

      who needs appetite-stimulants when cannabis will do this..?

      ..and on and on it goes in a sane/legalised world – such as in colorado – people can walk into a pot-shop and ask for the type of cannabis that best suits their personal/medicinal-needs..

      .no need for pill-pushing doctors/big-pharma..

      ..this is why dunne is working feverishly in his prohibitionist/patch-protection efforts for big-pharma..

      ..and this is why full legalisation is the best option..

  3. “Four out of five supporters of a strict approach that requires a doctor’s prescription would also support having medicinal cannabis sold as a herbal remedy at health food stores.”

    Can’t come soon enough for us.

    Gonzo: “The banning of synthetics happened due to street protests.”

    Weren’t they legalised in the first place due to street protests? Maybe my memory is wrong and legalisation came about through submissions to the responsible Minister.

  4. So it looks like it’s not a vote loser after all. Will National do it to try to attract the ganja vote and hold onto power, or will Labour and the Greens make it a key part of their platform in 2017?

    • They all got their hands in each others pants playing pocket billiards.
      Best approach to go forward is not relying on pollies.

      I cant see the turnout for pot legalisation marches being strong, like with banning synthetics marches peopled by concerned moms, christian groups and such.

      However, pollies are fudging all the way, and creating a bottleneck, not good to rely on them either.

      Remove or clear the bottle neck.

    • All drugs should be legal, and available en masse. ALL DRUGS.

      Prohibition is a failure, and only by teaching personal responsibility and self control, will we ever evolve beyond the luring and lurid temptation of the hidden fruits.

      When the fruit is ripe and freely available, like say for example nudist beaches….. will we ever be able to say
      ‘so what’
      ‘who cares’
      ‘big deal’
      and ‘I’m over it’.

      Until then, titillation and tabloid like infamy will render us scandal mongering zombies of the global apocalypse.

      [Datura flower scent pervades thru an open window…. BAN THE FLOWERS!!]

      you’re welcome

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