New Zealand votes to legalize euthanasia but not cannabis

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WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – New Zealanders voted to legalize euthanasia in a binding referendum. But in the preliminary results, they rejected a measure to legalize marijuana. With around 83% of the votes counted, New Zealanders flatly approved the euthanasia measure with 65% voting for and 34% against.

The “no” vote on marijuana was much tighter, with 53% voting against its legalization and 46% voting for. That left a small chance that the measure would pass again once all the special votes were counted next week, although it would require a huge swing.

In previous elections, special votes – which include those cast by foreign voters – tended to be more liberal than general votes, giving supporters of marijuana legalization hope the measure could still pass.

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

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

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