Thursday, 3 Dec 2020

New Zealand votes to legalise euthanasia – but not marijuana

New Zealand has voted to legalise euthanasia, but looks set to reject a legal bid to allow the recreational use of marijuana.

Two referendums took place at the same time as the general election that saw Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern win a second term this month.

The first vote on assisted dying has already secured enough “yes” ballots – 65.2% – to become law, meaning New Zealand will become the seventh country in the world to legalise euthanasia.

But with almost half a million postal votes yet to be counted, 53.1% of New Zealanders have voted against joining Canada and Uruguay in making cannabis legal, the electoral commission said on Friday.

As a result of the vote on assisted dying, from November 2021, terminally ill patients with less than six months to live will be allowed to arrange their own death.

They must be 18 and have the approval of two doctors, newly passed legislation states.

The final results of both referendums will be announced on 6 November.

In 2017, Ms Ardern supported a referendum on cannabis in order to form a coalition government.

She refused to say which way she would vote, until Friday when her spokesman said she supported both referendums.

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