Cannabis referendum’s razor-thin result shows mandate for change, says NORML


Cannabis referendum’s razor-thin result shows mandate for change, says NORML

The final results of the cannabis referendum have been released. Yes received 1,406,973 votes (48.4%) , compared to 1,474,635 votes for No (50.7%). The difference was just 67,662 votes.

There were 26,463 invalid votes cast (0.9%). An estimated 864,029 people did not vote (23% of eligible voters).

The final result showed a swing towards Yes, compared to the preliminary results of 46.1% Yes and 53.1% No released on 30 October.

The highest votes for Yes were recorded in the electorates of Wellington Central, Auckland Central, Rongotai, Dunedin and Mt Albert, the seat of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. The lowest proportion of ‘yes’ votes were in Botany, Pakuranga, Takanini, Māngere and Rangitata.

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The final results also showed Yes winning by majorities in Auckland Central, Banks Peninsula, Christchurch Central, Christchurch East, Dunedin, East Coast, Hutt South, Kelston, Mana, Mt Albert, New Lynn, Nelson, Northcote, Northland, Ohariu, Rongotai, Wellington Central and West Coast-Tasman.

New Zealand’s cannabis referendum had gauged support for a specific piece of draft legislation put forward by Justice Minister Andrew Little.

Overall, almost half the country voted for the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill – but with No having a razor thin lead that Bill will not be introduced to Parliament.

However many people who voted No say they would have supported other proposals.

“This close, almost fifty-fifty result is not a mandate for doing nothing. This is a mandate for consensus, compromise, and finding a new policy that is broadly supported,” said Chris Fowlie, spokesperson for NORML.

Since the preliminary results, leading campaigners for Nope, the Salvation Army, and the RNZCGP have advocated for decriminalisation.

“Clearly the proposed Bill was poorly understood and a step too far for some people,” said Mr Fowlie, in Auckland. “However almost everyone accepts prohibition does not work. The current law is widely ignored, selectively enforced and needs to change.”

“Even if this particular Bill is dead, reform is still on the agenda,” he said. “A vote against that Bill doesn’t mean no to everything else.”

After a difficult campaign characterised by misinformation and fearmongering, Mr Fowlie said NORML would like to thank everyone who who voted – especially those who voted Yes! – and everyone who kept an open mind on the subject.

NORML was a registered third party-promoter in the cannabis referendum, running a grassroots Vote Yes campaign.

“This national conversation has confirmed that cannabis is here, we are here, and we’re not going away.”


  1. Despite the cannabis communities collective feeling of disappointment in this result, the ground we have gained against the odds of high powered and well funded anti lobby groups is extraordinary.
    I would like to thank everyone who has advocated for the freedom of this wonderful plant.
    NORML, Nandor, Chloe, the drug foundation, Helen Clark, the daily blog and everyone else who voted yes except Jacinda Ardern. A politician who promised the most transparent election campaign, except how she would vote on cannabis law reform. A politician who has the power to make so many positive changes to Aotearoa, but would rather capitulate to regressive neo Liberal and Conservative madness.
    Labour better watch out, 2023 will roll around, and I suspect they will need the Greens more than ever to stay in government if they continue on this path of status quo, BAU, with a chance of a little more ineffective tinkering.

    • Jacinda Ardern DID VOTE YES. Andrew Little also voted yes. The Green party have accepted an arrangement with the Labour government and they are happy about it. 85% of the membership supported the arrangement with Labour.

  2. It is all ridiculous, we are a frightened little nation way behind in this area. But happy to see the booze barons continue their push of alcohol which is an enormous issue in Aotearoa. Good to see one of the American States has decriminalised all drugs, hard drugs, and says this is a health issue. Just like Portugal and of course more American states have legalised the use of marijuana.

  3. Labour would be fools NOT to pass some sort of reform.

    Imagine if Act in 2023 campaigned on legalization/reform – we all know David is good at getting things over the line .. Labour and the Greens, not so much.

    • The end of life bill had no real international interference and Big pharma will sell the poison used to kill people, so they still get their cut.
      But the same can not be said for the Cannabis referendum SAM, Scientology, Big Pharma and local twats Family first, Ironside, Act, Notional, salvation army, grey power, medical association, churches, School and so on and so forth and we only just lost!

      And the irony of the situation is if the +65 year olds who voted against This knew the magic of the cannabis plant and it’s uses, they are really the ones that are missing out. As for medical cannabis in NZ, what a joke, take a natural plant like cannabis, bastardize it, put it in a bottle with a fancy label and charge a fortune for it.

  4. If Act/National look at reform it will be under the Californian model. Huge taxes and compliance costs to force the little guy out and open the door for big tobacco and big pharma.

    But they will not go down this road because they will lose more vote than they will gain. They started their “Tough on gangs and drug” rhetoric last election with their “Strike force Rapter” bullshit.

    In reality the only chance we have is in the next election is if the Greens campaign on Climate change and drug law reform. The best we can hope for here is another bullshit referendum so there is another 7 – 9 years before we even get a chance, and labour/greens will not be in the drivers seat for much longer. I can not see a political party having the bulls to decriminalize/Legalize cannabis without a referendum, because they would have to take ownership of the change.

    They was lucky for covid and Jacinda’s handling of it, it’s what won them this election and I can see alot of small change they have made that have improved peoples lives but it’s not enough.
    House prices are skyrocketing rents are skyrocketing the price of food and the basic items are skyrocketing. Yet Labour are preparing to open the immigration floodgates and looking a negative interest rates Just plain madness!

    The world financial system is on life support with constant money printing and debt. Our world is in trouble, we are destroying the land and the sea, yet people with assets have never had it so good.

    So what have Labour really done in the past 3 years

    Made it easy for Haves to get away with cannabis offences while giving the police the option to prosecute the Have Not’s instead of doing the right thing If you are growing a few plants at home / consume cannabis in your own house, no sigh of dealing, no sigh of mental illness, no committing crime. You know, “Crime” where you inflict hurt or loss to other people. They should just fuck right off It shouldn’t be up to the police to say who is guilty or innocent, that’s the job of the court system.

    Introduced a 2 tier welfare system Double for the “workers” yet done very little to reform social welfare. although I must commend them for putting in school lunches, great move also their training schemes are great also.

    Looking forward, The Idea of pill testing is a great idea. People dying because of selfish ideology that’s what I call a crime!

    I wish it was different but going on the past this government will do what they do best, as little as possible.
    They will use their political capital for a few “Big picture” ideas and it will be BAU for everything else.

    Labour’s slogan.

    There will be no change just more of the same.

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