Referendums, whether binding or not, generally come into play on a contentious subject where the true opinion of all citizens should be known before any decisions by government is made. And the legalisation of recreational cannabis is still quite a contentious subject – in Australia at least.
Despite the majority of Australians polling that they support legalisation in the most recent National Drug Household Survey, when the time comes, many opinions may be swayed by campaigning from the “No” side. Which is the exact thing that happened in New Zealand’s most recent cannabis referendum.
In January 2019, results from HorizonPoll indicated 60% of New Zealander’s support legalising cannabis for personal use. Five months later, support dropped to 52%. From that time onwards, polls were flip-flopping either way, with the end result showing that the referendum was going to be too close to call based on polls.
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