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.
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.
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
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 www.vote.nz
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.
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 Inc; developer 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.