National | Debate

Most Te Tai Hauāuru voters want cannabis legalised

More than half of Māori voters in the Te Tai Hauāuru electorate said they would vote to legalise cannabis in this year's election referendum, a Māori Television Curia Market Research poll released Monday evening says.

Fifty-seven per cent of voters in the Te Tai Hauāuru electorate (which covers the western North Island) polled for Māori Television's first of eight election debates said they would vote in favour of the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill.  The biggest support came from the 18 to 30-year-olds.

Thirty-three per cent said they were against it, with strong opposition among the 60 plus age group.

Monday evening's debate saw current Labour MP Adrian Rurawhe discuss issues with Māori Party co-leader Ngarewa-Packer (Ngāti Ruanui, Ngā Ruahine and Ngā Rauru).

Both candidates freely admitted they had tried marijuana, "Yes, I have actually. I hope my parents aren't watching this," laughed Ngarewa-Packer.

Rurawhe was equally forthcoming, "Yes, I have. I can't remember the experience because I was drunk at the time, but however," he smiled.

They were both asked if they would buy it if it became legal and both said no.

Ngarewa-Packer said the Māori Party supported the bill but want to ensure that appropriate mental health and addiction support was there.

"But we're reconciling that with the fact that a lot of our rangatahi are criminalised," she said.

Rurawhe said he believed it should be treated as a health issue but did have a personal preference in how he believed the matter should have been approached.

"I would probably have preferred decriminalisation rather than legalisation."

He said he would vote for it, however.

The Māori Television Curia Market Research poll was conducted between September 23-25, 2020, with a total of 496 voters canvassed.  Polling was by landline and mobile with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 per cent.