New Zealand votes to legalise euthanasia, but not to legalise cannabis 2 years ago

New Zealand votes to legalise euthanasia, but not to legalise cannabis

From November of next year, New Zealand will become the seventh country in the world where euthanasia is legal.

Euthanasia will soon become legal in New Zealand but cannabis will not after the preliminary results of two referendums were released on Friday.


65.2% of voters in New Zealand voted ‘Yes’ in favour of the End of Life Choice Act 2019 coming into force, while 53.1% voted against support for the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill.

Approximately half a million postal votes have yet to be counted and the final results will be revealed on 6 November, but it is highly unlikely, certainly in the case of the euthanasia referendum, that the results will be reversed.

As a result of the referendum, from November 2021, people with a terminal illness in New Zealand will be given the option of requesting assisted dying.

'Assisted dying' according to the End of Life Choice Act, means:

  • A person's doctor or nurse practitioner giving them medication to relieve their suffering by bringing on death


  • The taking of medication by the person to relieve their suffering by bringing on death. In the Act, 'medication' means a lethal dose of the medication used for assisted dying.

A person eligible for assisted dying must meet ALL of the criteria below:

  • Be aged 18 years or over
  • Be a citizen or permanent resident of New Zealand
  • Suffer from a terminal illness that's likely to end their life within six months
  • Have significant and ongoing decline in physical capability
  • Experience unbearable suffering that cannot be eased
  • Be able to make an informed decision about assisted dying

A person would not be eligible to ask for assisted dying if the only reason they give is that they are suffering from a mental disorder or mental illness, or have a disability of any kind, or are of advanced age.

More information on the End of Life Choice Act is available here.

A bill to legalise assisted dying in Ireland, sponsored by Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny, was passed in the Dáil by 10 votes earlier this month and will continue to committee stage.