Referendums in New Zealand: Euthanasia yes, cannabis no

Referendums in New Zealand: Euthanasia yes, cannabis no

In New Zealand, a euthanasia law won a majority in a referendum, but the legalization of cannabis did not.

New Zealand wants to legalize euthanasia. After counting over 80 percent of the votes in a referendum, over 65 percent of citizens are in favor of a euthanasia law. The legalization of cannabis use, however, seems to have narrowly missed the majority in a second referendum. Both referendums were voted on the day of the parliamentary elections almost two weeks ago, in which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Labor Party won a clear victory.

The final result of the two votes will not be known for a week, although 480,000 votes cast by post have been counted, according to the New Zealand Voting Committee. But it should already be clear that the country will support a law that has already been passed by parliament to legalize euthanasia. 34 percent of the votes counted so far were against.

The law allows women doctors to prescribe or administer a lethal dose of a drug to adults who are “unbearably” suffering from an incurable disease and who would die within six months. It is not enough to be old, to no longer want to live or to have a disability, according to the legislature. The person willing to die must also be sane and capable of making decisions. The request for euthanasia to the doctor must come directly from the patient and be voluntary.

One fear of opponents of the submission in the run-up to the vote was that patients could be forced to commit suicide, for example by family members. If a doctor suspects this, he can stop the euthanasia process. The government will be able to review the law at regular intervals and adjust it if necessary.

A law to legalize the private use of cannabis seems to have little chance at the ballot box. According to the bill, people over 20 years of age should be allowed to buy up to 14 grams of the drug from licensed dealers and keep up to two cannabis plants – a maximum of four per household.

The proposal is likely to fail: on Friday, 46.1 percent of votes were in favor of 53.1 percent of votes against. However, the result could still change when the votes are counted at the end of next week. In New Zealand, postal voting is generally used more by progressively minded citizens.

In New Zealand, a euthanasia law won a majority in a referendum, but the legalization of cannabis did not.

New Zealand wants to legalize euthanasia. After counting over 80 percent of the votes in a referendum, over 65 percent of citizens are in favor of a euthanasia law. The legalization of cannabis use, however, seems to have narrowly missed the majority in a second referendum. Both referendums were voted on the day of the parliamentary elections almost two weeks ago, in which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Labor Party won a clear victory.

The final result of the two votes will not be known for a week, although 480,000 votes cast by post have been counted, according to the New Zealand Voting Committee. But it should already be clear that the country will support a law that has already been passed by parliament to legalize euthanasia. 34 percent of the votes counted so far were against.

The law allows women doctors to prescribe or administer a lethal dose of a drug to adults who are “unbearably” suffering from an incurable disease and who would die within six months. It is not enough to be old, to no longer want to live or to have a disability, according to the legislature. The person willing to die must also be sane and capable of making decisions. The request for euthanasia to the doctor must come directly from the patient and be voluntary.

One fear of opponents of the submission in the run-up to the vote was that patients could be forced to commit suicide, for example by family members. If a doctor suspects this, he can stop the euthanasia process. The government will be able to review the law at regular intervals and adjust it if necessary.

A law to legalize the private use of cannabis seems to have little chance at the ballot box. According to the bill, people over 20 years of age should be allowed to buy up to 14 grams of the drug from licensed dealers and keep up to two cannabis plants – a maximum of four per household.

The proposal is likely to fail: on Friday, 46.1 percent of votes were in favor of 53.1 percent of votes against. However, the result could still change when the votes are counted at the end of next week. In New Zealand, postal voting is generally used more by progressively minded citizens.

The law had support not only from the green and progressive sides of politics, but also from representatives of the judiciary, police and social services, who often deal with the consequences of criminalized drug use. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had not commented on her preference before the vote; only now did she say that she supported the law.

Christian organizations and the sect Church of Scientology spoke out against the bill. According to media reports, the opponents received support from the US lobby organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

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