New Zealanders have approved the idea to legalise euthanasia in a binding referendum. At the same time, they likely would not vote for legalization of recreational marijuana use.
Preliminary results of two referendums released on Friday showed that the New Zealanders welcomes euthanasia but not marijuana use. With around 83% of votes counted, the citizens emphatically endorsed the euthanasia measure, with 65% voting in favour and 34% voting against.
The “No” vote on marijuana was much closer, with 53% voting against legalising the drug for recreational use and 46% voting in favour. 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.
For New Zealand’s social fabric, these the two referendums have the significant potential. The controversial issues of euthanasia and marijuana remain the hot-button issues in any modern society. However, the campaigns for each ended up becoming overshadowed by the global pandemic and a parallel political race, in which head of Cabinet Jacinda Ardern and her liberal Labour Party won a second term in a landslide.
In fact, it is not the first time when the NZ government touches those important social issues. Especially, the bill, which potentially could transform marijuana into a medication. In past NZ elections, special votes have tended to track more liberal than general votes, giving proponents of marijuana legalisation some hope the measure could still pass.
Proponents of legalising the drug were frustrated prime minister would not reveal how she intended to vote ahead of the October 17 ballot. Millennials (currently 18-34) have been at the forefront of this change. However, across all generations support for weed legalization has risen sharply over the past decade. At the same time, to opponents, marijuana remains a dangerous drug, one that inflicts damage on people and society more generally.
Many believed an endorsement by PM Ardern could have boosted support for the measure, but she said she wanted to leave the decision to New Zealanders.
On Friday, after the results were released, prime minister said she had voted in favour of both referendums.