Sunday, November 8, 2020

Frank Newman: By the Numbers - legalise cannabis referendum

There is a strange irony that Donald Trump and the pro cannabis lobby have something in common - they both seem to be refusing the results of a public vote. Both groups have claimed victory when confronted with defeat, and both are claiming the result is a mandate to fight on. 

The cannabis vote was a straight YES or No in favour of the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill. That Bill set out a way for the Government to control and regulate cannabis, and proposed rules for growing, selling, buying, and consuming cannabis.

The question was: "Do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill? The result was:
  • 48.4% said YES
  • 50.7% said NO, and
  • 0.9% was invalid.
Some in the media and the cannabis lobby are reporting this as a 50.7% to 48.4% result. The problem with that is does not add up to 100% which for an either/or poll makes no sense. Invalid votes don't count. They don’t count because their intentions are not clear.

The correct reporting of the result is therefore:
  • 48.8% YES
  • 51.2% NO.
Of the 72 electorates (65 general and 7 Maori), 44 voted "NO" and 28 "YES". That's a 61% to 39% split.

The general seats that voted YES by more than 55% were:
  1. Wellington Central (73.6%)
  2. Auckland Central (68.2%)
  3. Rongotai (67.4%)
  4. Dunedin (63.6%)
  5. Mt Albert (63.4%)
  6. Christchurch East (55.0%)
There is a strong correlation between the YES vote in an electorate and the Green Party vote.

The greatest YES vote support came from the Maori seats, with support likely to be around two-third for, and one third against. This is likely to reflect the relatively high cannabis use within Maori communities.

Twenty general seats voted NO by a margin greater than 55%:
  1. Botany (65.5%)
  2. Pakuranga (62.2%)
  3. Takanini (60.0%)
  4. Māngere (59.1%)
  5. Rangitata (59.0%)
  6. Selwyn (58.9%)
  7. East Coast Bays (58.5%)
  8. Waimakariri (58.4%)
  9. Manurewa (58.2%)
  10. Kaikōura (57.8%)
  11. Whangaparāoa (57.6%)
  12. Mt Roskill (57.5%)
  13. Papakura (57.3%)
  14. Port Waikato (56.4%)
  15. Waikato (56.4%)
  16. Panmure-Ōtāhuhu (56.3%)
  17. Tauranga (56.2%)
  18. Tāmaki (56.0%)
  19. Upper Harbour (55.7%)
  20. Taranaki-King Country (55.0%)
The referendum is over but the pro cannabis lobby has already announced a new battlefront: decriminalisation. That involves removing the criminal penalties for possession of cannabis, and the potential to have civil penalties and health referrals instead.

Frank Newman, a political commentator and investment analyst, is a former local body councillor.


Barend Vlaardingerbroek said...

No, 51.2% did not say 'No'!
Not saying 'Yes' does not mean saying 'No'. The numbers need to add up to 100% but that is INCLUDING neither-Yes-nor-No votes. Invalid votes do count because they are still vast votes.
There is no way anyone can possibly claim victory for the 'yes' camp so let's move on to decriminalisation. That's about where we are anyway so might as formalise it...

Coker said...

I don't recall anybody on the pro-cannabis side "claiming victory". What they said on election night was that the special votes *could* still give them victory. Which is an indisputable fact.

I also don't see how it's "correct" to count invalid votes as "no". This must be a whole new branch of statistics that I haven't previously been aware of.

Anonymous said...

My heart said -yes. My head said -no. As long as the outcome in favour for reform was in any way leading to govt control, it was a recipe for disaster, and in no way would such an outcome have disenfranchised the gangs involvement in cannabis distribution. My vote would have been for decriminalization, had that simply been the objective.