New Zealand has voted to legalise euthanasia but could reject recreational cannabis use following two referendums that were part of this month's general election, the country's Electoral Commission said on Friday.
The cannabis referendum had been hotly contested for the past few weeks, with New Zeland prime minister Jacinda Ardern admitting to past cannabis use but not disclosing how she would vote on the bill, a stance that frustrated advocates, who also argued that legalization would take money out of the pockets of gangs, improve cannabis access for medical patients, and benefit indigenous Maori.
Ms Ardern's office confirmed Friday she had voted "yes" in both referendums.
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The lawmaker behind the reform, libertarian David Seymour, said it was a "resounding victory" that would make New Zealand more compassionate and humane. Full results will be released on November 6, as officials are still tabulating almost half-a-million special ballots - a lot of them from overseas.
"We have said from the outset that this would always come down to voter turnout", she said.
The law that allows for assisted suicide will go into effect in one year's time.
Proponents had argued the measure would reduce profits for gangs and improve social and legal outcomes for indigenous Maori.
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It means that once all of the special votes are counted next week, there could be a swing towards the "Yes" vote.
A separate referendum was held on assisted dying, with the End of Live Choice Bill backed overwhelmingly by the public.
But Dr. John Kleinsman, an ethicist for the New Zealand Catholic Bishops, said the vote put vulnerable people on a unsafe path.
Under the proposed cannabis law, anyone aged over 20 could buy up to 14 grams (half an ounce) a day, and households could each grow up to four plants. The government has to ensure the legislation is implemented by October 2021.
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Other countries that have legalized or decriminalized recreational marijuana include Canada, South Africa, Uruguay, Georgia plus a number of USA states.