If you are worried about legalising cannabis, I'd like you to do something. Go and ask the people around you whether they've tried dope. And if they're still using it, why they do, and if they're not, why not.
The reason I'm asking you to do this is so that you understand how many Kiwis smoke dope: either do smoke, or have smoked.
I did this today, I asked about a couple of dozen people if they've tried it, and of all the people I asked, only two said they'd never tried it. One of them will never, doesn't like the smell, and the other plans to try it next time he goes to Amsterdam.
• The rules of cannabis: Govt releases draft legislation for how cannabis could be bought and sold
• Cannabis lollipops, soft drinks and protein powder could be on the market for Kiwis following cannabis referendum
• Premium - Story about driver who smoked cannabis on the job shocks employers boss
• Premium - Canada racks up 400-tonne cannabis mountain after production binge
Now, I was surprised at the number of people who've tried it. I shouldn't have been because it mirrors the official stats, which say that four out of five of us will have tried dope by the time we're 21. One in eight Kiwis have used weed in the last year.
And when you think about that, it kind of changes what this referendum is about.
This isn't a referendum on whether Kiwis should smoke weed, or be allowed to, because they are. They are smoking weed.
This is a referendum about whether we're happy to go on as we are now which is Kiwis smoking weed and us pretending it's not happening, or whether we admit, yes, it's happening, and it's going to keep happening, and we put some rules around it.
Big call, because either way, there are risks.
The risk right now is too many parents aren't even aware their kids are sparking up every day at school, and I mean every day at school. Parents don't know this because we don't know weed is as prolific as it is, and we only find out when they're adults with anxiety and depression and memory loss.
The risk of legalisation, on the other hand, is that the quiet, private smoking becomes public and we normalise it, and we make weed easier to get.
So here's why I'm going to vote for legalisation if the legislation is strong enough. Because of all the people I asked today whether they'd tried it, the vast majority said they'd tried it once and never again. They didn't like it.
One person said he used it for years then decided he was overusing and he stopped. That to me says we can be trusted to be responsible. This country won't go to hell in a hand-basket if we legalise
Legalisation is not a silver bullet, it's not going to keep kids totally safe, it's not going to get rid of gangs altogether, I realise that. But as it is, the kids aren't safe and the gangs exist.
Because, you ask around, and you'll find most Kiwis have already tried it.