Maori strongly support cannabis reform ahead of referendum

Nearly three-quarters of Maori support legalising personal use cannabis, with 84% believing prohibition has failed to limit cannabis access and use, according to an independent survey.



Less than 12 weeks out from the General Election, 72% of Maori say they will vote for legalising the personal use of cannabis at the referendum, with just 27% opposed. This compares to overall support for cannabis legalisation at 56%, when nearly 1,600 Kiwis were asked this month by Horizon Research.


“Maori understand the opportunities cannabis legalisation will bring – creating jobs and boosting regional economies, while taking a health-based approach to reduce harm. Also, Maori have been disproportionately affected by criminalisation through prohibition,” says Paul Manning, Chief Executive of Helius Therapeutics.

Horizon Research has conducted a series of six comprehensive surveys tracking nationwide opinion on cannabis law reform since late 2018. However, this marks the first time Maori opinion has been extracted and examined. The research is commissioned by New Zealand’s largest medicinal cannabis company, Helius Therapeutics.


The latest survey conducted in June compares closely to another Horizon Research poll conducted last year for the Maori current affairs television show, The Hui. That poll of 620 Maori showed 75% were likely to vote for legalising cannabis for personal use in a referendum.


Cannabis prohibition


Two questions were also asked this month about whether prohibition is working to limit the availability and use of cannabis, and whether controls over growing and selling cannabis would deliver a better outcome for society.


On the question of whether prohibition of cannabis was limiting access and use, only 15% of Maori said it was. A staggering 84% said cannabis is available and used by many New Zealanders, and 1% gave no response.


Cannabis flower – Helius

On whether respondents believed controls over growing and selling cannabis for personal use would deliver a better outcome for society, 66% of Maori said yes, 31% supported continuing with no controls, and 3% gave no response.


Commissioned by Helius Therapeutics and carried out independently by Horizon Research, the latest results, from 1,593 adults representing the New Zealand adult population at the 2018 census, nationwide includes a sample of 232 adult Maori. The survey was conducted between 10 and 14 June 2020. At a 95% confidence level, the maximum margin of error on the Maori sample is ±6.6%.


Key results


Question: At this time, do you think you will vote for or against legalising cannabis for personal use in New Zealand?


Maori respondents:

  • 72% – For

  • 27% – Against

  • 1% – No response

Question: Currently, producing cannabis for personal or non-prescription use is prohibited in New Zealand, with the intention of limiting its availability and use. Do you think prohibition of cannabis is working in New Zealand society?


All respondents:

  • 15% – Yes, cannabis is hard to access and rarely used in New Zealand society.

  • 84% – No, cannabis is available and used by many New Zealanders.

  • 1% – No response given.


Question: Currently, growing cannabis for personal use is prohibited in New Zealand. Which one of the following options do you think will have a better outcome for New Zealand society?


All respondents:

  • 31% – Continuing with no controls over growing and selling for personal use.

  • 66% – Controls over growing and selling for personal use.

  • 3% – No response given.

© Helius Therapeutics 2018