Voter enrolment and turnout will decide the cannabis referendum


The cannabis referendum will be decided by turnout, not the facts or evidence.

If that were the case, cannabis would have been made legal years ago, and we wouldn’t be fighting a dirty campaign of lies run by the Nopers.

The Nope campaign is based on fear, misunderstanding and distrust, while the Hopers campaigning to make it legal take the moral high ground with truth and evidence.

The outcome of this referendum vote will determine whether further generations of Kiwis are criminalised; whether your kids are helped or persecuted if they are caught experimenting with weed; whether historic convictions for pot will continue to be an albatross around the necks of workers seeking new jobs; and whether Maori continue to bear the brunt of discriminatory law enforcement or are supported with new economic opportunities under legalisation.

That choice is up to you, and everyone else who votes.

- Sponsor Promotion -

With voting places open now to election day on 17 October, every New Zealander aged over 18 can have their say – if they’re enrolled to vote.

It’s far from a foregone conclusion. The result is up in the air.

As Aunty Helen Clark has said, the polls run the gamut.

While some recent polls have shown Yes and No tied in a dead heat, or too close to call, the latest TVNZ Colmar Brunton poll of intending voters shows Hope trailing Nope by 35% to 53%.

These polls show every vote will count. These polls also only count intending voters.

The difference between winning and losing will come down to voter turnout.

There are far more people who don’t vote than the difference between Yes and No in any polls.

The big issue here is that most older people vote religiously (and they tend to vote more conservatively), whereas many younger people who support cannabis law reform are not yet enrolled to vote.

If you don’t vote, you are effectively voting No.

I think Yes would win comfortably if everyone voted.

NORML has therefore developed a very simple 3-step plan to win this referendum with a positive Yes vote:

1. Enrol to vote Yes

You must be enrolled to vote in the cannabis referendum. Do it now at or call 0800 56 76 36. Check your friends & whanau are all enrolled and voting too!

2. Vote from 3 October, through to election day 17 October

Voting opens on October 3rd. Your last chance to vote is election day on October 17th. This year you can vote at more places, and you can even enrol to vote in person on the day you vote (just bring your drivers licence or passport). Find your nearest voting place at

3. Enjoy legal cannabis!

At home, or at specially licensed premises (R20). Remember, the only way we can make it legal is to Vote Yes.

NORML is supporting this grass roots campaign with billboards, online ads, leaflets, raising awareness at markets and events, letterbox drops, writing letters, and supporting effective projects through grants and other resources.

Our campaign is run by ordinary folk running on a few kind donations. We have no American lobbyists or churches sending us tithes from their congregations. Given the apparent budget thrown around by the Nopers, it really is a David vs Goliath battle.

But it is a battle we can win! Sign up to help here, and donate to support our work here (all donations are anonymous), and make sure all your friends and whanau are supported to vote Yes.

Together we can do this: we just have to vote for it.

Chris Fowlie is the president of the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws NZ Incdeveloper of the CHOISE model for cannabis social equity; CEO of Zeacann Limited, a cannabis science company; co-founder of the New Zealand Medical Cannabis Council; 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. Keep up the good work Chris, this might be the one and only chance to legalise NZ weed. One thing that irks me is the Nope vote by all the oldies, well probably 99% of them. We know they will vote for ‘No’. It’s not about them, the boomers. This is about modern culture in NZ going forward. I’m a boomer but will vote ‘Yes”,
    I’ve had my time smoking pot, why stop the young folk doing what we did? ‘Nope’ voters probably know SFA
    about dope, it’s not going to effect them if they are oldies. I started drinking about the same time I started smoking pot, I’ve given up the pot because I can’t be bothered trying to buy it from dodgy people. If it’s legalised I’ll probably partake on a social basis. Drinking is way worse than pot in just about every way IMO.

      • good one. I’m sick of these boomer stereotypes and prejudices.
        How do you know older people are voting nope? I’m too old to be a boomer. I voted yes. But I’m not holding my breath – these neo liberal governments of whatever hue will just hand it all over to big Pharma.

    • One thing that irks me is the Nope vote by all the oldies, well probably 99% of them. We know they will vote for ‘No’.

      Do you have evidence for this GreenBus? Anecdotal? Not the ones I know. I like to think the boomers are a mixed generation. Some back in the day wandered in the footsteps of James K. Baxter, others were weekend hippies out for a good time, yet others simply pragmatic in the choices that life offered. Some no doubt were, in short, rednecks (though I like to think the interim years have ushered in some changes in perspective). Some had an environmental conscious even back then (remember Rachelle Carson), others took for granted the unquestioned tenants of continued economic growth. Some were educated in institutes of higher learning, pursued avenues of self-education or just stumbled on critical understandings of critical issues; others couldn’t have cared less. And probably still don’t.

      So GreenBus, not so convinced that the vast majority of boomers are Nopers.

      • Add a decade plus and I voted YES.
        I have seen the personal destruction to a family member caught with a reefer and convicted. 30 years later he is still barred from some work he is highly skilled in and capable of doing well.
        We don’t need to penalise a youthful prank for life.

        Religious nuts tend to be punitive and evil in the true sense of the word. Where is the love for fellow man.

    • Well OK maybe I got % wrong. What say 90% instead of 99%. I too know many a boomer/oldie who still smoke pot on a regular basis. So what. The point is, who’s voting now against legalising cannibis? A recent poll 53% Nope. If you don’t believe the majority will vote No then your in LaLa land. This is NZ mate, as others keep saying, we are a conservative lot, don’t like change, keep the status quo. Denial is huge in AO/NZ especially in this age group. Climate change anyone? So many just deny deny deny, don’t want to face up to the fact much has been on our watch and a few generations before. Easier to blame the young people who you think don’t understand. If you knew the young people, you would know that they are fully aware the oldies have left a bloody mess of everything for them to live with. Same with cannabis, same with the housing ripoff, same with poverty etc etc. Now the oldies on mass WILL vote Nope to spoil and restrict this one extra freedom that mainly the younger generations could enjoy. Everything is NOT about the boomers. Now we have a chance to vote to legalise a virtually harmless plant so everyone can smoke it in peace without being labelled a social deviant by the stuck up conservatives. This is my opinion only, based on a lifetime lived as a proud bogun. You wont find the statistics to back up any of this on the MSM as they simply don’t know and besides are firmly wedded to the rightwing sleepy hobbits.

  2. The case put by supporters of the YES vote is bloody bullet proof–longitudinal academic studies, celebrity endorsements, positive overseas experience, millions in venture capital raring to go for economic benefits, health benefits, less heat on our brown communities, and the list goes on.

    But…the worry has always been for me how to communicate all this succinctly to our conservative grumpy bastards in ZB land. Older people I talk to are in favour for their own medical needs but still get swayed by the Nope campaigns, even though the questions have been answered again and again. “Make it legal” has done a good job too with a meme for every occasion but they do not have the budget to get the reach needed.

    And Chris is right, when it comes down to it it is enrolment and turnout that will win the day. Even if you only persuade one person to enrol, and have to transport them to an early voting place yourself–do it today!

  3. Decriminalise ALL drugs immediately. Make recreational drug taking, and its consequences if any, a medical health issue and not a criminal justice issue.
    Purge AO/NZ of foreign banksters and regulate money lenders to a point where they’re unable to profitably function.
    Mandate a four day working week and re nationalise ALL of our once-were publicly owned assets and infrastructure and asset strip those who financially benefitted from the sales of the aforementioned and return those monies back into our communities, starting with those most at risk.
    There you go. See? That wasn’t so hard was it? I know fuck all about most things and yet I was able to detail a plan to fix poverty, drug addictions and our culturally stagnant society suffocating under the weight of terminal Blue blandness.
    Go me. Now, gimme a knighthood?

    • What about very widespreadly practiced norwegian state capitalism with majority only state ownership in companies rather than full government ownership?

      • Funded by oil but yes we could do that using sovereign money over time
        Which party would you see spearheading that structure.

        • I dont think big oil is a prerequisite, though all that oil capital like Norway has is advantageous when initially creating or buying into into state driven companies.
          I’m thinking more kiwi made flat pack pine furniture like that swedish homewares company, or kiwi made shoes designed with government direction. Might end up looking like soviet era stuff eh? Doesnt have to with good design like the Scandi’s.
          I heard the NZ shoe market is about as big as the proposed cannabis market.

    • Sir Countryboy I Knight thee and Confer The Order of The Sticky Bud, go forth and protect the Weak, Speak the truth and Blow smoke up the ass of the state

  4. If it does become legal the next thing a lot of those who are for it will be complaining about it being hijacked by big business backed by those horrible foreign banks

    • The funny thing is Trev that if you knew what you were writing about, you’d know there are specific safeguards in the proposed legislation that actually prevent that.

      Which of course you know, because you would never comment about a topic you didn’t actually know much about eh?

      • Yes Martyn. It amazes me that uninformed opinion is based on not reading the whole legislation, a little like those coting for Collins on the basis of not reading Dirty Politics.

      • I tip my hat to your superior knowledge but would say that this is what has happened in California and Canada . While there are controls put in the proposed bill it still needs to be past. Many of the growers of the present crop will be unable to gain licenses due to their convictions. NZ is a small country and in other fields 1 or 2 companies have squeezed out the small operator. Groceries hardware liquor have all succumbed over the years why should the big money in this market not attract those that have expensive people that know how to get round any controls in place.
        I gain my knowledge from reading and listening and mentoring young people back into the workforce and nothing has swayed me to think legalization is a step in the right direction

        • Trevor, you have managed in your response post to me saying you are talking the gibberish rubbish of someone who hasn’t actually read the legislation and you have replied with MORE gibberish rubbish.

          Comrade, the legalisation acknowledges that we DO NOT WANT a mega corporation approach here.

          The legislation states that no one player can own more than 20% of the market!

          The legislation allows for past convictions to not impede getting a licence to grow because there is an acknowledgment that we want to use this to gear shift people our of crime and into legitimate business.

          The legislation doesn’t allow for marketing, it will be stringently policed and those still selling illegally will face enormous fines.

          The market will demand regulation that is ethical as well as being fair.

          Proceeds are ringfenced for rehab, that will amount to $675m each year, including 5000 jobs, including licence fees and GST of around $250m each year for general taxation and it will help dairy move away from intensive Dairy to cannabis fields.

          It is a win, win, win, win, win. Trevor you had no idea the above was even in the legislation and yet you think you are well placed to comment and not only comment, but rejoice in the ignorance of your no vote.

          Why should we take you seriously on this issue when you know so little about it?

          • The arguement will be won or lost later this month by the voters of NZ and I am sure that our opinion will not sway them one way or the other.

            • That’s just gutless putting up a whole bunch of bullshit then trying to hide behind everyone else. Even hard drugs make people docile. If hard drugs were going to ruin society it would have done so already not 40 years later. No, what ruins the economy is not the individual, it’s poor decision making from up top.

        • A civilized person does not criminalize their neighbour and friends for “habits” to keep them out of the workforce. How about criminalizing beer and cigarettes behind the wheel? that causes way more harm to employment prospects than hard drugs and hard drugs is way down the list of things to worry about.

        • Trev, my admiration for the work you do. However your statement on legalization whilst understandable, also undermines that that what we are doing right now isn’t working . The question is will it.make it better or worse, that we dont know? If we don’t try we won’t know. If it doesn’t work we can revert to type.

        • Trev have you watched the damage of a prosecution in a youngsters life.

          Drugs are a health issue and more resource is needed for education and treatment. Prisons just make the problems worse.

  5. People hate unfair laws that dont work, time for a change backed by scientific studies and comparisons of relative harm.

  6. 80 odd years of reefer madness, fake news and out and out bullshit from those with money and a vested interest in destroying the planet for financial gain is a lot to overcome. Judith voted no, prays in the morning gambles in the afternoon, a perfect role model for the nopers.

    • Everything you need to know about Judith right there. If she had a christian bone in her body, she’d be treating those marginalized a hell of a lot better. Power is her only god!

  7. See right here in this column is the ageist nonsense which AFAIK has been promoted by xtian conservatives to ensure a ‘NO” vote is returned in both columns.

    Fairlie is too young to remember, but it was us boomers who copped 10 year prison sentences for the alleged crime of establishing an affordable & viable psychoactive line of home grown pot, not for the dosh, but because by 1972 we were all tired of either rewarding stupid beer drinking crims who were flogging over-priced thai/buddha sticks or forking decent cash over to some ignorant but greedy cow cockie for a big bag of non-psychoactive ‘cabbage’.

    If it wasn’t for us mob who got shot, stabbed, robbed, dobbed in and otherwise terrorised, all the weak arses currently whinging about old ‘conservatives’, would still be wasting days in some stranger’s apartment reading 4 year old music mags & waiting for the ‘man’.

    I have no doubt that most over ’60’s’ in Aotearoa had a damn fine time sucking down ‘the green’ -there was a time in the late 60’s early 70’s when the majority of ‘boomers’ used pot & enjoyed it.
    Most still remember that time with affection, even if some of ’em came over puritanical after the media fed ’em nonsense about how ‘P” & hammer would kill their children, and how cannabis was the starter, all nonsense – as any would acknowledge if encouraged rather than challenged/confronted.

    The pot referendum can remind them of the fine time they had as kids, if they are allowed to recall that without getting caught up in arguing the toss over the lies propagated by alcohol & tobacco corp nonsense who spread nonsense such as pot = adolescent onset psychosis.

    Given the opportunity, most boomers prefer to recall the fun they had as kids, rather than the lies fed to them as parents.

    I realise that probably goes against the grain of the proud pot politicians who treat this issue as a stepping stone, & want to win by beating the ‘enemy’, but if are one who really wants this referendum to succeed, you will go for reminding boomers of their own youth ,ahead of relentlessly summoning the faux, indoctrinated concerns of middle-age.

    My biggest worry is that thanks to the numbskull way that this generation’s potheads have played this, primarily in order to be seen on the ‘correct’ side of history as they perceive it,
    kiwis will be denied the right to ingest what they choose to be intoxicated whilst their commensurate power to decline to die when their existence is deemed inconvenient, is removed.

  8. Richard Brunton co-founded Colmar Brunton in 1981 and built the business into the country’s best known and most trusted research company –

    He was the driving force behind Colmar Brunton’s ‘Better Business, Better World’ campaign – a personal crusade around creating profit by creating purpose, or making money by making meaning. He believes (with the research to back it) that organisations that are driven by the big ideal of making their customers’ lives better create more shareholder value in the long run than those who focus on other aims.

    His articles, speeches and unique perspectives have been published in many magazines and newspapers. Richard was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame in 2005, and became a life member of the Marketing Research Society of New Zealand in 2010.

    In 2014, he retired as Executive Chairman of Colmar Brunton and has devoted his time to writing, speaking and marketplace ministry. Richard published The Awesome Power of Blessing in July 2016; this booklet is having an amazing impact on the lives of people around the world. It can be downloaded free here. He has recently published a second booklet Anointed for Work which draws on over 30 years experience as a successful CEO.

    Richard attends FaithPointe church in Auckland. He is also a member of the ministry team at Charisma Christian Ministries and teaches in their School of Supernatural Ministry. He speaks and ministers throughout NZ and overseas too.


    I guess white lies are okay if you [think you] are saving people

    • Supernatural beings and collection of money go hand in hand.
      Supernatural beings may have a big problem in handling money as they always seem to need more.

  9. You would’ve thought the ‘Capitalists’ would be all for it! Its a multi billion dollar industry!!
    You could also reduce the income of gangs at the same time ad well as all of the other positive effect it will have on society, the health budget, police and policing, crime, courts ect…
    Definitely a no brainer!

    Well for most of the sensible people.

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