While support for medical cannabis still remains very strong in New Zealand, the issue of legalising recreational cannabis is a different story – particularly among 40 year-olds.
Researchers at the University of Otago carried out a survey of 899 40-year-old participants in the Christchurch Health and Development Study*. Their findings indicated 82.8% of the cohort expressed support for medicinal cannabis; while 47.8% supported decriminalisation and only 26.8% expressed support for legalisation for recreational use.
In terms of medical cannabis, just 6.2% disagreed or strongly disagreed doctors should be able to prescribe cannabis based products for medicinal purposes such as to relieve chronic pain without restriction. 10.1% were neutral on the issue.
14.9% reported medicinal use of cannabis in the past, primarily for pain (62.7%). Other common reasons included for sleep or as a relaxant (23.1%) and nausea (22.4%).
23.4% took a neutral stance on legalising recreational cannabis, indicating a large number of hearts and minds to potentially be won over.
“These findings provide insight into cannabis-related views within the New Zealand context, and may help to predict voting behaviour during the 2020 Cannabis Referendum,” state the researchers.
However, they also note many of the interviews occurred between 2017 and mid 2018 – and opinions can rapidly change; particularly in a country where the discussion concerning cannabis has progressed significantly since that time.
The full study report, which was published in the New Zealand Medical Journal can be viewed here.
New Zealand’s cannabis referendum is to be held on Saturday September 19. The exercise will be a non-binding referendum on the question of whether to legalise the sale, use, possession and production of recreational cannabis. The question to be posed is:
“Do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill?”
Further information on the Bill and the referendum question can be found here. The Bill doesn’t incorporate medicinal cannabis including hemp as these are covered by existing laws.
The Christchurch Health and Development Study has been following the health, education and life progress of a group of 1,265 children born in the Christchurch area in 1977.