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New Zealand votes to legalise euthanasia but not cannabis

Nick Perry
·1-min read
<p>New Zealand voted in the referendums at the same time as the general election that returned Jacinda Ardern to power.jpg</p> (AP)

New Zealand voted in the referendums at the same time as the general election that returned Jacinda Ardern to power.jpg

(AP)

New Zealanders have voted in favour of legalising euthanasia in a binding referendum. But in preliminary results they were rejecting a measure to legalise cannabis.

With about 83% of votes counted, New Zealanders emphatically endorsed the euthanasia measure with 65% voting in favor and 34% voting against.

The “no” vote on cannabis was much closer, with 53% voting against legalising it and 46% voting in favour. That left open a slight chance the measure could still pass once all special votes were counted next week, although it would require a huge swing.

New Zealand voted on the referendums this month while casting ballots during a general election that returned prime minister Jacinda Ardern to power.

In past elections, special votes — which include those cast by overseas voters — have tended to be more liberal than general votes, giving proponents of cannabis legalisation some hope the measure could still pass.

The euthanasia measure, which would also allow assisted suicide, would apply to people who have terminal illnesses, are likely to die within six months, and are enduring “unbearable” suffering. Other countries that allow some form of euthanasia include The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Canada, Belgium and Colombia.

The cannabis measure would allow people to buy up to 14 grams (0.5 ounce) a day and grow two plants. Other countries that have legalised or decriminalised recreational marijuana include Canada, South Africa, Uruguay, Georgia plus a number of US states.

AP