USA

New Zealand votes to legalize euthanasia but not marijuana

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealanders have voted in favor of legalizing euthanasia in a binding referendum. But in preliminary results they were rejecting a measure to legalize marijuana.

With about 83% of votes counted, New Zealanders emphatically endorsed the euthanasia measure with 65% voting in favor and 34% voting against.

The “no” vote on marijuana was much closer, with 53% voting against legalizing it and 46% voting in favor. That left open a slight chance the measure could still pass once all special votes were counted next week, although it would require a huge swing.

In past elections, special votes — which include those cast by overseas voters — have tended to be more liberal than general votes, giving proponents of marijuana legalization some hope the measure could still pass.

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

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

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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