Referendums on euthanasia and cannabis take place in New Zealand

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Sarah Peddie

Two referendums have taken place in New Zealand where voters got to voice their opinion on legalising cannabis and euthanasia. 

The questions had appeared on the general election ballot papers but the results won’t be revealed until Friday (October 30).

However, political experts have said that voters in New Zealand tend to keep things just as they are which could affect the outcome of both referendums. 

Polling has shown a strong support for the legalisation of euthanasia in the country with around 60-70 percent of voters in favour. It also has the backing of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the opposition party leader Judith Collins. 

The End of Life Act 2019 would allow terminally ill people to apply to end their life. The act has passed through parliament already but it needs 50 percent of voters to tick “yes” on their ballot papers for the act to come into force. 

Criteria for people who want to end their lives have to be over the age of 18, suffering from a terminal illness that will terminate their life in the next six months, are New Zealand citizens, have an ongoing decline in their physical capability, endure unbearable suffering and can make the decision on their own. 

If the act got the go ahead then it would come into action in October 2021.

Voters have also been asked to make a decision on whether they want to legalise cannabis and regulate how it is sold and used. The change would impose tighter restrictions than the sale rules on alcohol and tobacco. 

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