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HomeMedico-LegalNew Zealand referendum: No to cannabis; Yes to euthanasia

New Zealand referendum: No to cannabis; Yes to euthanasia

Rejecting a campaign backed by medical experts and the New Zealand Medical Journal, a national referendum has voted against cannabis legalisation, writes MedicalBrief. They have, however, voted to legalise euthanasia for those with a terminal illness.

The Guardian reports that the decision on whether to legalise euthanasia appeared as a referendum question on the 17 October general election ballot paper, alongside a second referendum question on whether to legalise cannabis – which did not succeed, according to preliminary results.

In the final week before the referendum, the New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) has switched its position from one of opposition to one of neutrality. The failure of cannabis legalisation came despite the fact that New Zealand’s most experienced public health experts threw their support behind the yes campaign. In an editorial in the New Zealand Medical Journal, specialists from the fields of addiction treatment, public health, health promotion and epidemiology have urged New Zealanders to legalise cannabis

The results of the euthanasia referendum are binding and will see the Act come into effect 12 months from the final results – on 6 November 2021. Assisted dying will be administered by the Ministry of Health. Preliminary results announced last week by the Electoral Commission saw 65.2% of eligible voters tick "yes" to legalising euthanasia, with 33.8% ticking "no".

Only 46.1 % of New Zealanders voted to legalise cannabis, while 53.1% voted no. The referendum results so far do not include nearly half a million special votes, meaning the final results will not be confirmed until 6 November. This has left cannabis supporters hoping special votes may be able to tip the outcome, but they would need to be overwhelmingly in favour – an outcome seen as slim.

The vote makes New Zealand the seventh country in the world to legalise assisted dying. The referendum follows the passing of the End of Life Choice Act in Parliament in 2019. Under New Zealand law, the Act could only come into force if more than 50% of voters ticked "yes" on the referendum ballot.

 

[link url="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/30/new-zealand-votes-to-legalise-euthanasia-but-against-legalising-cannabis-in-referendum"]Full report in The Guardian[/link]

See also:

[link url="https://www.medicalbrief.co.za/archives/nz-medical-association-changes-position-on-cannabis-legalisation/"]MedicalBrief archives: NZ Medical Association changes its position on cannabis legislation[/link]

[link url="https://www.medicalbrief.co.za/archives/watching-mates-drop-dead-new-zealands-synthetic-cannabis-crisis/"]MedicalBrief archives: NZ's synthetic cannabis crisis[/link]

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