Most Ikaroa-Rāwhiti voters want to legalise cannabis

By Te Ao - Māori News

Once again, more than half of Māori voters in a Māori electorate are saying they will support legalising cannabis in this year's referendum, a poll of Ikaroa-Rāwhiti voters by Māori Television Curia Market Research has found.

This is in sharp contrast to 50.5% of respondents surveyed in a newly released Newshub Reid-Research poll who plan to vote against cannabis legalisation.

Some 51% of Ikaroa-Rāwhiti voters, joined a majority of Māori in Te Tai Hauāuru (57%) polled earlier this week, in indicating they will vote in favour of the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill.    

Meanwhile, 32% said they would vote against it, and 16% were undecided.

The poll was discussed on Wednesday evening during the second of eight Māori Television election debates.

The Green Party's Elizabeth Kerekere said she expected the poll result to be higher.

Smiling, she said, "But what that tells me is your vote didn't get to all the young people in our region." 

The Māori Party's Heather Te Au-Skipworth said her party supports decriminalisation "because our whānau are locked up four times more than non-Māori." 

She did voice a word of caution though. "We need to ensure we have the belts and braces in place.

"We have a mental health system that cannot cope already. If we pass this law, we need to make sure that we have enough mental health services to be able to deal with whānau that may end up in that sphere." 

Labour MP Meka Whaitiri said she supported a law change.

"Clearly, too many of our people are in jail for possession, for recreational use. That will address that." 

Whaitiri said she wanted to see quick change for the economic opportunities that could lead from it.

"There are obviously jobs around growing it and we've got some of the finest growers up the coast.

"So let's not muck around in a time when we need jobs. Clearly, there are some jobs there and also the health benefits in terms of you don't have to smoke it, it can relieve chronic pain and you can create balms."

The Māori Television Curia Market Research poll was conducted between September 28-29, with a total of 499 voters canvassed.  Polling was by landline and mobile with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 per cent.