Cannabis Referendum’s Volatile Polls Show Every Vote Will Count – As Scientologists and Uncle SAM Exposed Behind Bob’s “Nope” Campaign


With no public education campaign and widespread confusion over what the referendum will do, it is perhaps unsurprising to see such volatility in opinion polls. What is perhaps more surprising is that the cannabis referendum result could be decided by the least powerful and most disenfranchised members of society. And what should horrify everyone is that foreign interests and religious charlatans are actively working for the Nope campaign fronted by Family First.

Two cannabis referendum polls were released this week, with one putting Yes in the lead and the other showing the opposite, but both showing support for Yes tracking upwards.

Last Monday a poll released by Horizon had the Yes campaign in the lead, at 56 per cent intending to vote Yes compared to 42 per cent voting No. But TVNZ’s Colmar Brunton poll, released the same day, had Yes trailing at 40 per cent versus 49 per cent for No.

Crucially however, both polls had the Yes campaign tracking upwards. The trend is on our side.

The Horizon poll found stronger support from women compared to men, and young compared to Boomers. Green Party and ACT voters were most likely to vote Yes.

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The Horizon poll also showed especially strong support for reform among Maori. This makes sense, as Maori have traditionally borne the worst of overzealous drug law enforcement and can also see the economic opportunities a positive referendum result would generate.

My reading of both polls is that, if anything, TVNZ’s Colmar poll is conservatively worded and may tend to produce a more conservative result. The opposite may be the case with Horizon’s poll, conducted for Helius Therapeutics, which holds a medicinal cannabis licence.

It is important to remember that neither poll asked the question that will be asked in the referendum (which will be: “Do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill?”). They asked their own, rather different, questions.

If we average both polls, we are dead even. It’s a 50:50 split.

Every vote will count.

As I’ve been saying to anyone who would listen, whether or not you vote could make the difference. With polls evenly split, this gives folk stuck on the bottom, who tend to not vote, more power and influence than ever before.

My hunch is many non-voters would tend to vote Yes, if they voted this time. I suspect the Nope campaign knows this too. So watch out for provocateurs discouraging voting – “a waste of time”, “they’ll never do it”, “they’re so corrupt”, etc – and question who the act of not voting really helps.

In this case, at this election, with this referendum, deciding to not vote can only help the prohibitionists working for the No campaign.

With support among intending voters tied, not voting effectively means casting a vote for No.

Not voting increases the likelihood that prohibition will remain the law; that young and disadvantaged people will be unfairly targeted; that youth will be blighted by criminal convictions; that criminal justice approach will win over a health-based approach; that police will keep arresting thousands of New Zealanders. For ever.

That is the aim of those purveyors of spite, misinformation, and revisionist propaganda, the Say Nope to Dope campaign.

Say Nope to Uncle SAM and Religious Weirdos

Fronted by Family First’s Bob McCroskie, it turns out the Nope campaign is actually backed by well-funded US lobbyists and the Church of Scientology.

The Daily Blog’s Martyn Bradbury has the story here (Cough, cough – like TDB pointed out, American Christian Right funding NZ referendum). I had been hearing the rumours all year.

TVNZ then reported our Government is rightfully concerned about foreign influence in our election process – namely, Uncle Sam telling Kiwis how to vote in the cannabis referendum.

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (or SAM) has been behind most of the unsuccessful US campaigns fighting cannabis law reform and trying to lock states into futilely continuing prohibition.

It turns out they are also behind the Say Nope to Dope campaign fronted by the awful Bob McCroskie.

Even National’s Shane Reti said he is “not enthusiastic for foreign interests to be interfering in domestic policy”.

It gets worse. Russell Brown has since discovered their Nope campaign is also backed by the Church of Scientology. Not just casual support – they are actively involved. Their front organisation’s website, Drug Free World Aotearoa-NZ, encourages visitors to book explanatory sessions with their counsellors / mind-control fanatics.

And even worse. Russell Brown also discovered former National Party drugs spokesperson Paula Bennett had called a public meeting in Auckland to discuss “drug reform” in February this year at which she handed out Scientology pamphlets to the audience. While Minister under the previous National Government, Paula Bennett also approved giving public money to Drug Free Ambassadors, another Scientology front, for 130,000 copies of an anti-drugs brainwashing booklet they distributed to New Zealand schools.

While officially denying any funding from overseas, it is obvious Say Nope has a large enough budget to run nationwide billboards for the past year, widespread internet ads, full page newspaper ads, and so on. I wish the Yes campaign had their level of funding!

These revelations came out after the two polls above were conducted, so the impact on support for Nope is not yet known. I’d be surprised if many people would knowingly associate with this lot now.

Awareness leads to support

We have become aware that the more people know about the referendum’s proposed Bill, the more likely they are to vote Yes. If they do not know much about it, they are more likely to vote No.

Messages that resonate especially well with fence-sitters tend to emphasis the controls built into the referendum’s Bill. These include the R20 age limit, the ban on advertising and marketing, the controls on potency and produce types, limiting use to private spaces not in public, and that drug-driving will still be prohibited. Employers want assurance workplace safety issues won’t be affected (they won’t).

People also appreciate that medicinal access will be easier and cheaper when cannabis is properly legal, and that NZ’s version of legalisation will benefit local communities and promote participation by non-profits and social enterprises. There will be no Big Cannabis in New Zealand.

Our main task, therefore, is to simply increase awareness and understanding of the Bill and what it does, without needing to go hard convincing people it is right. They will come to that decision on their own.

You can help by talking to your family and friends – have that difficult conversation you’ve been putting off – and try setting a goal of getting at least one non-voter to enrol and vote Yes in the referendum. Remind them they can just vote for the referendum and don’t have to vote in the election too, if that’s what turns them off.

If we all convince at least one non-voter to vote Yes, we’ll win this comfortably.

Enrol at From this coming election, anyone aged over 18 can now enrol and vote right up to voting day, and on voting day itself. Voting booths will also be in places like Supermarkets, so it has never been easier to vote – and every vote will make a difference!

If you want to help more, make a donation to Make It Legal at Givealittle, and help the NZ Drug Foundation’s Yes On Our Terms campaign by making a donation here. They have just successfully fought off 50 complaints organised by Bob’s Nopers and now need your support to keep the Yes campaign ads running.

Chris Fowlie is the CEO of Zeacann Limited, a medicinal cannabis producer; co-founder of the New Zealand Medical Cannabis Council; president of the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws NZ Inc; developer of the CHOISE model for cannabis social equity; co-founder of The Hempstore Aotearoa; resident expert for Marijuana Media on 95bFM; cannabis blogger for The Daily Blog, and court-recognised independent expert witness for cannabis. The opinions expressed here are his own.


  1. I’m with trump on this one.
    A wall needs to be built immediately.
    Around the U$A to keep the mad bastards in.
    As we AO/NZ’ers who must, by our very vote, decide who can interfere with our politics and who must not, we must be very careful who’s the most motivated here to bother voting to enable that kind of disastrous interference.
    If only the psycho right vote then we’ll get a psycho right government.
    Sound familiar? Jonky the putz ( dick. Literal: yiddish for penis ) tugged hair for three terms while good people could only stand back and pray for a meteor strike.
    Now? Today? We’ve had a virus show us a new way of doing things. A left way. A human-being way. If adern hadn’t been scared shitless at the prospect of a run-away health disaster under her steerage we’d a never seen border lock downs as tight as the life saving ones we’ve had.
    jonky’s right ving ding dongs would have kept the borders open and handed out free, reusable plastic coffins. Deaths? Who cares? So long as the eftpos bots keep getting poked.
    Our SAS should round up the SAM’s and scientologists and pop them into holding cells until they can be deported. We have enough subversive morons here of our own already, thanks.
    And we should have to vote. We must vote. Voting MUST become mandatory.

  2. A few years ago I attended a course in Rotorua on operating log haulers (safely) . Both the instructors at the course and the other attenders main background concern in the area of safety was workers turning up for work stoned and or smoking weed at work. Accidents in the logging industry almost always occur to someone else than the person who made the slip up, the momentary lapse in concentration, there is so much going on with a number of team members among airborne sticks weighing up to 8 or 9 tones and over 30 meters long and traveling at speed. Having a machine operator stoned is a nightmare.
    I also once some time ago went to look to buy some sawmill machinery at Puketutu Island in the Manakau harbour where a mill had closed down because the owner could not persuade his workers from smoking (dope) at work. He told me of a meeting he called with his staff to try to persuade them not to. They protested that they only smoked at smoko time, not while they were working.
    It is true that being drunk on the job in these dangerous workplaces is at least as dangerous ( for co workers ) but it is more common for dope smokers to be in the habit of smoking through the day, people whe drink through the day are uncommon among regular social drinkers and people who drink through the day are usually recognised as having a serious problem.
    For the reason of safety in unsafe workplaces I will have to vote no in spite of having plenty of friends and relations who use dope at varying regularities . Those responsible for work place safety must hav the law behind them when keeping drugs out of the workplace.
    D J S

    • The NZ logging industry has a murderous work place un-safe record ,,,and to conflate cannabis criminal law with work place safety is BJS DJS ,,, Bull jolly Shit .

      Because we have employment laws / regulations ,,, You know , those Other New Zealand laws…

      Such as ,,, “The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and related regulations apply to employees and contractors.

      The Act and related regulations require that workers and others are given the highest level of protection from workplace health and safety risks, so far as is reasonably practicable. ” ……..

      “The HSE Act requires you to monitor all hazards that you can’t eliminate or isolate, and the drug and alcohol hazard is no exception.”

      “You MUST develop a drug and alcohol policy and you may choose to include a clause on drug testing in your employment agreements,”

      “You NEED to develop a drug and alcohol policy to ensure staff understand your expectations for maintaining a drug and alcohol-free workplace.”

      So work place safety does not need criminal laws that could harm your Cannabis using friends or relatives DJS ,,,, do your ‘friends’ know about your unfriendly attitude towards them ?. Lower standards of friendship towards those Cannabis criminals perhaps ?? .

      Forestry has some Pike River like design flaws, that are also ideological and market driven ,,, it would take some Enforced regulations ,,, which National the anti cannabis crusaders call ‘red tape’ ,,, to make workers lives matter.

      I could also add the ‘market driven’ harm to communities and individuals as forestry crews are laid off at the stroke of a accountants pen ,,, even though New Zealand needs to build houses.

        • Do you always just make things up when you have been proven wrong DJS ? ,,, “I can tell that your familiarity with the logging industry is totally academic.” ,,, .

          The truth is you have no fucking clue as to my familiarity with the logging industry.

          So yet again you are misleading ,,totally wrong regarding my knowledge ,,,,, and parroting right wing attack lines….

          You’re almost as bad as Trevor Sennitt below ,,,, who blames Pike River on Andrew Little ,,, “Pike River – How could this happen in this day and age?” ,,,,

          Having a convenient scapegoat absolves right wing corner cutters of fixing broken dangerous systems ,,,,, The Donald Trump approach.

          You’re both ( you and Trev ), no friends of workers or their safety ,,,, and in your case a bullshit pretend friend for your Cannabis using “friends”.

          Here’s a tribute to hard workers ,,,disposable NZers whose deaths you have no interest in learning from.

    • Sorry DJS gotta disagree about the weed at work alarm going off. My workplace is a sawmill and all staff are
      monitored and everyone watches everyone else. Any sign of intoxication and away to the drug and alcohol testing place in town. A few have been caught and fired instantly – booze every time. It’s all in the eyes. A stoner cannot hide his state if checked by the boss. You are quite correct that we don’t want stoners working or driving while under the influence, but weed is so much less of a problem than alcohol IMHO and this is a chance of a lifetime to at least decriminalize or legalize a very popular recreational product.

      • I don’t see the point of disagreement Greenbus. Your work environment seems to have the same concerns as I picked up at the cable logging course and are united in addressing it. The sawmill episode was again relating someone else’s experience related to me not my own. The prevalence of one drug over another is likely a matter of where the enterprise is established.
        D J S

      • Yes we have moved on from the days D J Stone talks about. Religious groups enlisting American influencers is almost out of a horror movie and does more harm than good.

  3. This guy I know had an alcoholic dad who used to hit him in the head when he was young, because this child was a little autistic and adhd and had odd behaviours. The kid also had multiple food allergies which were never picked up because the kids dad was old school and thought his boy was just being annoying.
    As this kid grew up he developed further multiple behaviour issues relating mostly to the food he was forced to eat but also possibly due to concussion from the very hard clips to the ear from 3 years old,, and the multiple sports injuries he sustained due to his impulsive adhd.
    Ear clipping was a poplar method of controlling noisy children in nz, and was heartily administered by many drunken fathers.
    The kid turned 16 and tried cannabis and felt immediately better, and his behaviour improved as well. His impulsivety calmed and has inflammed nervous sytem got some rest.
    However, doctors then labeled him as having a drug disoder and began to hound him for the rest of his life.
    Many communities were told of this problem child by the state representatives, that he should be shunned and avoided due to being a person of poor character.
    He saw others like him in the news. Victims of suicide, Teina Pora, Aaron Farmer, Scott Watson and many more.
    So he realised it wasnt personal and just a system that was cruel and humiliated people with disablities so they wouldnt breed.

    And here we are again.

  4. Where is the public education with arguements for and against on both referendums. I am afraid that it will boil down to which party gets your vote is the way you vote on the marajuana referendum the end of life will be more personnal .

  5. Does anyone know where there is a clean clear description of what the cannabis referendum is about and why? All I can find is from one side or the other, hardly unbiased.

    If voting is made mandatory it MUST give an alternative i.e the option to tick a box saying ‘They are all dickheads and I support none of them’, a vote of no confidence I suppose you could call it. last suss 400,000 odd peope did not vote due to political reasons. Those people if forced into a booth must be given their right to vote for whom they choose, even if it is Mr No Confidence.

    But they wont do that as it will challenge their baubles and open too many eyes to just how shit NZ is governed.

  6. The Yes campaign is invisible, its being mostly led by non weed smoking academics. The yes vote is up against the biggest money and propaganda campaign possibly in the history of NZ and it better pull finger because it’s not gonna pass just cos, this is gonna be a hard slog. Unlike in Canada where Trudeau led the pro weed charge , Ardern will mention weed reform as little as possible, the greens while supportive won’t want to make their campaign a one issue campaign so it’s up to weed supporters to launch a grass roots get out the vote door knocking campaign, rallying etc also if influential LGBT people didn’t come out when it was illegal to be LGBT the LGBT movement would have failed. It’s time for stoners to come out of the closet , your business leaders, media people, lawyers, medical professionals etc need to come out to normalize it, smoking weed in 2020 is nowhere near as taboo as coming out as gay in the 70s and 80s. We have 2.5 months to get this once in generations vote through, let’s not mess this up and let’s be as visible as possible.

  7. Info from the poster Mark Champion at

    “Family First New Zealand annual returns totals
    2013 $397,534
    2014 $488,695
    2015 $455,330
    2016 $341,947
    2017 $434,918
    2018 $616,067
    2019 $736,778
    You notice the massive upswing in donations when he started this anti cannabis rant.

  8. Writes a long winded article complaining about lack of information while giving us no information. This is typical. 1: we’re not ready for legalisation. Nobody’s against the medicinal aspect so that’s where we should start. Decriminalisation has a nice ring to it too. 2: far too much obsession with weed is this country, until we’re rid of meth, pot is a non issue.

    • With off logic opinions like yours ,,, dressed up as Fact ,,, you need all the help and info you can get Off white ….

      Allow me to help ….
      Professor Joseph M Boden is director of the Christchurch Health and Development Study at the University of Otago, Christchurch :

      “Given our research on the risks associated with cannabis use, why do the directors of both the Christchurch and Dunedin studies maintain that cannabis should be dealt with as a health issue, and not a justice issue? The reason again is related to our findings.

      First, despite being a banned substance, cannabis is commonly used across both cohorts, indicating that prohibition does not stop people using cannabis. Second, we found that those who were arrested or convicted of a cannabis offence did not reduce their use of cannabis (in fact some increased their use), suggesting that being subjected to the force of the law does not deter people from using cannabis. Third, the Christchurch study found that Māori were three times more likely than non-Māori to be arrested or convicted on a cannabis offence, showing that prohibition law is enforced by the police and courts in a racially biased way.

      Collectively, our findings suggest that cannabis prohibition laws are not fit for purpose, and that in the 21st century we must deal with the problems associated with cannabis in a way that promotes health, equity and justice for all New Zealanders. The way forward is through legalisation and strict regulation as provided by the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill.”

      ‘Alfie’ from Public Address ” While “justice” has taken the lead for over 50 years, treat drugs as a health problem and justice naturally follows. And if our little country has learned one really important lesson lately, it’s that following science can produce some great results.”

      • Damn, off logic? Whatever. I am merely taking a pragmatic approach. Looking at the issue through multiple lenses rather than just my own. Let’s give people who are terminal the ability to get hold of some pot. Let’s stop criminalising people for possession. Things we can all agree on first.

        For some people it may be a health issue. For others it is a justice issue. For most of us it’s a recreational issue.

        As for for these professors, there’s always a handful to quote who will reinforce you world view.

  9. If a man carry marry another man and a women marry another women and people can choose when there time is up and our young people can view porn online then surely we can have a bloody joint if we want one. We are not little kids it should be our choice and we should not be treated like losers or criminals when we pay our taxes. Many of our over 70s generation in this country are dead against marijuana use, yet many seem to have no problem with tobacco and alcohol use, despite all the money, premature deaths and social problems these cost our country.

  10. I think that it’s a mistake to believe that people who don’t vote in elections in which they have no interest are therefore not going to show up to vote in an election in which these citizens do have an interest.

  11. I won’t mention the G word anymore (it’s overused by politicians and wannabes) but the creator has placed the cannabis sativa, the cannabis indica and the cannabis ruderalis on this most illustrious planet for a reason.
    Anyone claiming the cannabis plant to be vile and evil in the name of “God” is blaspheming and insulting the natural order of creation.
    There are many intellectuals, politicians, scientists, IT professionals, military, constabulary, artists, bus drivers, medicos, ditch diggers and essential workers such as bakers and dairy workers, not to mention stressed out teachers and parents, who could not function at capacity without the facility to relax and get creative with the help of a small toke of well grown weed. (when I say well grown, I mean a) grown with love b) grown from seed in soil as the creator intended c) grown with organically composted materials d) grown in the natural way, watered with rain from the heavens and praised with light from the Sun.
    I would like to quote a comment I read recently, hope they don’t mind, which seems relevant:
    “I have been smoking cannabis almost everyday since the age of 15. I am now 35. By the anti-cannabis logic, i should have developed some form of psychosis, be a drop kick loser and most likely addicted to other drugs like meth and alcohol. 
    The fact is i am a Senior IT Consultant, i make 153k a year and i do not  have any drug addictions.
    I am a heavy smoker. BUT i can go very long periods without it. I get home, smoke up, study, go to sleep and wake up for work and repeat. 
    I am not the only one like this. My partner is a senior full stack developer who is making 170k a year. My friends are the same. everyone in my IT department smoke weed. Everyone in this department earn no less than 500pd. 

    So if cannabis is as bad as these anti-cannabis smokers claim, why am i (and many others i know) are in the top 10% of the countries income earners? why are we mentally stable? why are we doing something with out lives and strive to achieve our personal goals? 
    This is because cannabis is not damaging to the brain, it does not cause addiction (but you can develop a habit) and it does not turn youth into brainless idiots. 
    The losers you see were losers before they started and they will be losers while smoking cannabis. its called taking personal responsibility for your own lives.”
    Thank you to whoever wrote that.

    • Well said Jane, many thanks. I have a similar story but add another 20 years. Hardly touch the stuff now but used to be heavy user. No addictions, never tried harder drugs. All the “experts” haven’t got a clue.

  12. Bloody good to hear Aunty Helen coming out in support, as per her for public dentistry.

    Apart from her careerism it’s hard to work out her course, except she ran scared.

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