Join the panel!

Research Results

The “oh so close” cannabis and end of life choice results

10 Nov 20

The “oh so close” cannabis and end of life choice results

Horizon’s polling in August and September, 2020, found the majorities for legalising and controlling personal use of cannabis could vary between 67,900 against and 139,300 for.

The final result was a majority of 67,662 against.

The Horizon August result differed from the official one by just 238 votes.

The official result was 1,474,635 votes against, 1,406,973 for. 

The results were for respondents who were both registered and 100% likely to vote – and, unlike any other published polls on the issue, Horizon asked a question which did not allow a “don’t know” option.

Horizon predicted from its September survey that 2,947,700 voters would vote in the referendum; the total official count (including informal votes) was 2,908,071 or 39,629 fewer than predicted.

The August 2020 survey, conducted as part of a tracking series for Helius Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company working only with medicinal cannabis (non recreational), surveyed 1,300 adults nationwide and had a maximum margin of error of +/- 2.7%.

The September 24-28 survey, conducted before early voting started on October 3 and ended on October 17, had 1,481 respondents and a maximum margin of error, at a 9% confidence level if +/- 2.6%.

Horizon’s report on the September survey said:

  • The referendum result continues to be too close to call.  While there is now a gap between the “Yes” and “No” voting intentions, the movement in comparison with the August 2020 “dead heat” is within the margin of error for the survey and is not statistically significant.

  • When asked to make a choice between supporting or opposing the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill 52% will support, 47% will oppose. Those who are currently both registered to vote and 100% likely to vote, when also given a “Yes” or “No” choice only, also vote 52% ”Yes”, 47% ”No”. This would mean a small majority for the bill of around 139,300 votes, based on the number of adults at the 2018 census.

  • Comparisons with the August 2020 survey indicate that voters’ decisions are shifting, and the final result may depend on the strength of arguments for and against made right up until voting closes on October 17.

  • The influence of voter registration and turnout, especially by various age groups will still be important.  Current indications are that the highest levels of support for the bill are 63% of 18-24-year olds and 69% of 25-34-year olds.  However, among respondents these are the lowest groups for both registration and intention to vote: 62% of 18-24-year olds and 77% of 25-34-year olds are both registered to vote and 100% likely to vote. 

Horizon found that respondents’ previous party voting choices had a significant influence on referendum voting choices, with 2017 National Party voters being strongly against and Labour and Green voters in favour of reform.

End of life choice – accurate call

Horizon’s September 24-28 survey also asked how people would vote in the referendum to enact the end of Life Choice Bill.

The official result was 65.1% for, 33.7% against.

Horizon’s result, for those both registered and 100% likely to vote, was 66% for, 33% against.

The maximum margin of error for this survey was +/- 2.6%.

For further information please contact:

Grant McInman, Manager, Horizon Research Ltd,


Telephone: 021 076 2040.