The cannabis referendum is on a knife-edge, with a new poll suggesting voters are narrowly leaning towards a yes vote.
A new poll released by the Helen Clark Foundation and the New Zealand Drug Foundation this morning shows 49 per cent of respondents support the legislation, while 45 per cent oppose it.
When those who responded "unsure" were asked which way they were leaning, a further 2 per cent leaned in favour of voting for legalising recreational use of cannabis.
The results differ with a recent Colmar Brunton poll, released on September 26, which showed support for the legislation was going up in smoke.
TVNZ's Colmar Brunton poll saw just 35 per cent of respondents saying they supported the bill, with 53 per cent of respondents opposed.
And the latest Newshub Reid-Research, released six days ago,
showed just 37.9 per cent of responders in favour of the legislation, compared to the 50.5 per cent against it.
The UMR poll, released today,
shows National supporters and respondents over the age of 60 were less likely to say they would vote in favour of legalising cannabis, at 26 per cent and 33 per cent respectively.
Former Prime Minister Helen Clark says she's aware the UMR poll differs to recent polls on the issue but says she trusts the research team's track record, which has been proven in recent election results.
"If you look at the record of who has gotten the election result right, chances are it's gotten this right too," she told the Herald.
"Horizon Research has a good track record too, and its poll results are similar to this one."
However Say Nope to Dope spokesman Aaron Ironside says UMR poll's results were a far cry from the sentiments he's seen over the past two years.
"It's going against the trend of the national polls and our internal polling, which show a large gap between those in favour and those against, with a large majority against the legislation," he said.
Kathy Errington, executive director of the Helen Clark Foundation, says voter turnout would be critical to the referendum result.
"All that we know for certain is that it's going to be close and what you do now - if you support change, if you talk to your friends, if you get out and vote, it can make a difference," she said.
"We hope that whatever the result, that New Zealand moves away from an approach to drug policy that's rooted in criminal law and prohibition.
"Our cannabis laws have done so much harm to so many people for so many years we do hope they change and we hope that happens no matter what."
Ross Bell, director of the New Zealand Drug Foundation, says polls have proven to be a poor predictor of recent referendums overseas.
"The only certain thing is people talking to their family and friends about why a yes vote is important, helping check voters are enrolled and getting out and voting," he said.
New Zealanders will be asked in the upcoming election whether they support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill.
Ironside said there was "no place for being complacent" with less than two weeks until voting day.
"We want people to be informed," he said.
"This is an evidence-based campaign. If cannabis is legalised, more cannabis will be used than ever and more young people will be exposed to cannabis.
"We still are finding out that people think we're talking about medicinal cannabis and only when people look at the effects of legalisation in other countries, they see that they don't want to open Pandora's box."
But Clark says a Pandora's box has been opened "for probably 60 years" now.
"The referendum is not asking you, 'Do you think cannabis should be available?' because it is very widely available and it has been for decades," she said.
"New Zealand is, frankly, one of the cannabis capitals of the world. It grows very easily here and up to 80 per cent of people will have used it in their lifetime.
"I'd really ask people to think about their vote and think about whether they themselves would want to be in the position that people using cannabis are - who are arrested and prosecuted and convicted - and whether they would want their children and grandchildren to be in that position.
"That criminalisation is a blight on their lives. But if you take that criminalisation away and make it legal, you get the economic benefits of legal cannabis, and it's also an opportunity for those who are growing it to make their mark."
In reality, Errington said, the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill is very restrictive.
"It's not going to be a free for all, far from it: public consumption will be banned, there's a minimum consumption age of 20, advertising is banned," she said.
"It's far, far more restrictive than the regimes in places like Colorado."
• The Bill legalises restricted access to cannabis
• The Bill would allow people to possess and consume cannabis in limited circumstances.
• A person aged 20 or over would be able to:
buy up to 14 grams of dried cannabis (or its equivalent) per day only from licensed outlets
enter licensed premises where cannabis is sold or consumed
consume cannabis on private property or at licensed premises
grow up to 2 plants, with a maximum of 4 plants per household
share up to 14 grams of dried cannabis (or its equivalent) with another person aged 20 or over.