Cannabis flower up close

Data shows the majority of Kiwi’s who voted against cannabis legalisation are over 50


Post-referendum data from New Zealand has shown that the majority of Kiwi’s who voted “no” in the cannabis referendum are over the age of 50.

The final results of New Zealand’s cannabis referendum were announced in early November. Once the special votes were counted, 48.4% of voters voted “Yes” to passing the Cannabis Legislation and Control Bill, while 50.7% voted “No”. 

While we may never get an age breakdown of the referendum results, a post-vote survey asked 25,384 Kiwi’s how they voted. The survey showed a pretty interesting trend: the older you are, the lower the chances you voted to legalise cannabis

Votes for cannabis were lowest among retirees, with only 29% of New Zealanders aged over the age of 65 voting “Yes”. For people between the ages of 50 and 64, only 42% voted “Yes”, while 52% of people aged 40 to 49 voted “Yes”. 

For younger generations, the majority of voters supported cannabis legalisation, as you can see in the graph below. 

But what does this mean for New Zealand? 

While the New Zealand government has made it clear they wanted the public to decide whether the cannabis industry should become legal, public opinion will likely shift in the next few years. 

To be blunt – the cannabis reform campaign will likely outlive its opponents. 

Statistics from the 2018 New Zealand census show that 15.2% of the population is aged over 65. The average life expectancy for Kiwi’s is 81 years for men and 84 years for women. 

This means that if the country were to hold the vote again, the results would likely change, as the referendum results were only separated by 67,662 votes. 

It’s also possible New Zealand will decriminalise cannabis. Although the referendum didn’t give people a decriminalisation option, research by NORML shows the majority of New Zealanders have supported decriminalisation since 2016.

In a statement earlier this month, NORMAL New Zealand’s spokesperson Chris Fowlie wrote:

Almost everyone accepts prohibition does not work. Even if this particular bill is dead, reform is still on the agenda.

Although the fight for cannabis reform has taken a hit in New Zealand, drug law reform is still in Australia’s future. Click here for seven reasons Australia should legalise cannabis

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