New Zealanders Vote Yes on Euthanasia, No on Pot

Jacinda Ardern voted Yes on both questions
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2020 3:53 AM CDT
NZ Votes Yes to Euthanasia, No to Cannabis
In this Oct. 15, 2020 photo, a cyclist rides past a sign in support of making marijuana legal in Christchurch, New Zealand.   (AP Photo/Mark Baker, File)

New Zealanders have voted overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing euthanasia—and narrowly against legalizing marijuana for recreational use. The euthanasia proposal, which appeared as a referendum question on ballots in the country's Oct. 17 election, passed with around 66% of the vote, the Guardian reports. The law will take effect on Nov. 6, 2021, a year after the referendum results are finalized. On the cannabis question, authorities say 46.1 % of New Zealanders voted in favor of legalization and 53.1% voted against the move. Almost 500,000 special ballots remain to be counted, but authorities say they are unlikely to change the results unless more than 70% of them have Yes votes on the cannabis proposal.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who won her reelection bid in a landslide, has revealed that she voted Yes to both questions, per The End of Life Bill, which allows voluntary euthanasia for terminally ill patients, had already passed the country's parliament, reports the Washington Post. New Zealand's government says it has now ruled out major changes to cannabis laws for the "foreseeable future," though Justice Minister Andrew Little says he plans to ensure that people whose only offense is drug possession will "almost automatically" be referred to health authorities instead of prosecuted, the New Zealand Herald reports. A 2018 change to drug laws widened the use of medical marijuana and protected terminally ill people possessing the drug from prosecution. (More New Zealand stories.)

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