Cannabis, euthanasia live updates: Referendum results revealed

The euthanasia referendum has passed, while the cannabis referendum has failed on preliminary results. Jacinda Ardern has revealed she voted 'yes' on both referendums. 

Quick reminder:

  • At the election, Kiwis were asked to vote on whether they supported the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill, which sets out a way for the Government to regulate the production, supply and consumption of weed. 
  • The purpose of that Bill - which has not yet passed through Parliament - is to "reduce cannabis-related harm to individuals, families/whānau and communities".
  • The second referendum was on whether Kiwis supported the End of Life Choice Act coming into force
  • This Act - which has passed through Parliament - gives people with a terminal illness the option of requesting assisted dying. 

Missed Newshub's live referendum results special? Watch it here:

Live updates are now over.

4pm - Here's a new Instagram post from Swarbrick regarding the cannabis result.

3:45pm - Associate Professor Chris Wilkins from Massey University says the preliminary result "reflects general public concerns and uncertainty about key issues in the debate".

He says these issues include whether the proposed regime would effectively limit youth access, potential negative impacts for driver safety, and whether there might be a counter-productive impact on health campaigns against smoking. 

"One important positive, which potentially comes from the result, is New Zealand will now have the opportunity to study cannabis legalisation reforms and outcomes currently underway overseas in US, Canada, and Uruguay over a number of years and learn important lessons about what policy settings and regulatory frameworks are effective.

"This evidence could more definitively address many of the outstanding questions that have been raised in the public debate over recent months."

3:30pm - Marta Rychert, a senior researcher in drug policy at Massey University, says if the cannabis result is confirmed next week, it wouldn't be an unexpected outcome.

"A number of US states have recent experiences with failed ballots to legalise cannabis. For example, a Ohio ballot measure failed in 2015 and a North Dakota Initiative failed in 2018.

"In Uruguay, where cannabis was legalised by the Parliament without public voting on legalisation, public opinion polls at the time indicated only 30-35 percent support for the reform (although the support for reform increased over time).

"These experiences show that garnering public support for such a controversial, complex and a divisive issue is difficult."

Rychert says the referendum has contributed to a "more nuanced public debate about legal response to personal use of cannabis".

"Hopefully, it has also increased the public’s understanding of harms and opportunities presented by different policy options."

3:15pm - David Seymour has released a statement about the End of Life Choice Act victory.

"It is a victory for all New Zealand as we become a more compassionate and humane society. Thousands of New Zealanders who might have suffered excruciating deaths will have choice, dignity, control, and autonomy over their own bodies, protected by the rule of law."

3pm - Swarbrick is speaking about the preliminary results: "It looks like the referendum has lost. However, we still have half a million votes to come through". 

She says about 67 percent of the special votes need to be skewed towards 'yes' to change the cannabis result. She is proud of the "evidence-based" campaign run to see the law changed.

"I just want to say thank you very much to all of those who have come forward, who have shared their stories - particularly in the criminal justice system - for those who have spoken about their experiences being green fairies and being criminalised for providing medicine - the only medicine that works for some.

"For those who have spoken about being family members of those who have suffered with mental ill health and addiction issues."

"It's entirely plausible" for the result to change, she says.

The 'yes' campaign was up against a tide of misinformation, Swarbrick says.

Decriminalisation doesn't deal with the issue of supply, she tells media.

Swarbrick always expected the vote would come down to turnout.

2:55pm - We are waiting for Swarbrick to speak to media. That will be streamed above.

2:45pm - Drug Foundation chair Tuari Potiki says while a "majority of New Zealanders did not vote for the proposed model of legalisation, the debate has shown a clear public desire for legal change in some form".

"The Drug Foundation notes the strong mandate for decriminalisation that has been evident in public debates on the referendum and calls for an end to criminal penalties for those who use cannabis and other drugs, and for those who grow small quantities of cannabis at home for personal use."

2:42pm - So what happens now with the euthanasia law? This article explains it all.

2:40pm - The Yes for Compassion group is happy with Friday's euthanasia results.

"This vote was about compassion and choice. We're delighted New Zealand came together and voted for choice for their loved ones and for themselves," says Yes for Compassion Executive Director Dr Jessica Young.

"Our nation is admired worldwide as a liberal democracy and the first to give women the vote in 1893. Today’s historic victory continues that tradition, providing the choice of an assisted death to terminally ill Kiwis who want and need it - saving a great deal of unnecessary suffering for individuals and their loved ones."

Dr Young calls it a safe, narrow law.

But the Salvation Army has expressed "serious concern".

"We believe many New Zealanders are unaware of the lack of safeguards contained within the End of Life Choice Act and that vulnerable people, such as the elderly and those struggling with mental illness, will be especially at risk from this law."

2:30pm - While the Justice Minister says it's "highly unlikely" the cannabis results will be overturned on the special votes, the Greens are holding out hope.

"Today’s result shows what we had long assumed, that it was going to be really close and that we need to wait for the specials to be sure of the result," says Swarbrick.

"We have said from the outset that this would always come down to voter turnout. We’ve had record numbers of special votes, so I remain optimistic."

She said New Zealand has had a mature conversation about drug laws.

"Many who have traditionally felt disenfranchised by the political system may have their voices heard at the specials. We’ll wait to see how that plays out next week."

2:25pm - Dr Nick Smith, National's drug reform spokesperson, says New Zealand "will be healthier, safer and more successful" for voting no on cannabis legalisation.

"This is a victory for common sense. Research shows cannabis causes mental health problems, reduced motivation and educational achievement, and increased road and workplace deaths," he says.

"New Zealanders have rightly concluded that legalising recreational cannabis would normalise it, make it more available, increase its use and cause more harm."

2:20pm - There were 2,415,547 votes for each of the referendums. 


Yes: 1,574,645

No: 815,829

Informal: 25,073


Yes: 1,114,485

No: 1,281,818

Informal: 19,244

2:15pm - The Prime Minister has confirmed she voted yes in both referendums.

"A spokesperson for the Prime Minister confirmed she voted yes in both referendums and will progress any legislation in line with the will of the people following the release of the final results next week."

2:10pm - Justice Minister Andrew Little has acknowledged the results. 

"Subject to the release of the final results on 6 November, the incoming government will respect the result of both referendums. This will mean that recreational cannabis use will remain illegal in New Zealand."

He told Newshub he doesn't believe the cannabis results will change: "For the cannabis referendum result to change it would require roughly 70 percent of the special votes to go in favour. That is highly unlikely to happen."

2:05pm - David Seymour, the MP behind the End of Life Choice Act, says: "I'm just feeling fantastic, it gives me so much love for this country that we have chosen to give those people suffering some real choice and control and compassion at the end of their life".

"I think to have not done so would've been frankly barbaric. I think it's a great day to be a New Zealander.

"I would say that it hasn't just been my responsibility. I didn't do it alone, couldn't have done it alone."



I support the End of Life Choice Act 2019 coming into force: 65.2 percent

I do not support the End of Life Choice Act 2019 coming into force: 33.8 percent


I support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill: 46.1 percent

I do not support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill:  53.1 percent

For cannabis, that's a fairly close result which could swing on special votes.

Cannabis, euthanasia live updates: Referendum results revealed
Cannabis, euthanasia live updates: Referendum results revealed

1:50pm - You can now watch the livestream above of Newshub's special.

1:40pm - Reminder: Newshub will broadcast a referendum results special at 2pm. That will be on Three and streamed on If you are overseas, catch it here.

1:30pm - We are all Chlöe right now.

1:25pm - Euthanasia-Free NZ appears to have released its press release an hour early.

"Euthanasia-Free NZ is disappointed that the New Zealand public voted to pass a flawed euthanasia law, based on widespread confusion," it says, despite the results not yet being known.

The release then goes on to mention poll results that Euthanasia-Free NZ believes shows a misunderstanding among Kiwis about what the End of Life Act would legalise.

1:15pm - Waiting for the results from overseas? You'll be able to watch the Newshub special on YouTube here.

1:10pm - Swarbrick says she is proud of those advocating for drug reform.

"Whatever happens, I’m proud to have worked with advocates, impacted communities, experts and organisers on a consistently evidence-based, compassionate and rational campaign," she tweeted on Friday afternoon.

"Whatever happens, we’ve progressed the dialogue around drug harm reduction, addiction, mental health and substance abuse in this country by light years. Whatever happens, there’s more work to do."

1:05pm - Meanwhile, the COVID-19 update has just been released and New Zealand has one new case in managed isolation. 

"The one case from managed isolation is a member of the Christchurch-based international mariners group who tested positive.

"This individual was a close contact of a previously reported case from the same group of mariners who had tested positive during day 6 testing and as such was already being closely monitored.

"Three cases have now recovered, meaning the total number of active cases is 68.

"Our total number of confirmed cases is now 1,594.

"Yesterday our laboratories completed 7,472 tests for COVID-19, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 1,090,702.

"This is the second consecutive day of more than seven thousand tests completed. It is good to see a sustained response to the call for anyone with symptoms to be tested."

12:45pm - With a little over an hour to go until the results are released, have your say on how you think Kiwis have voted:

12:30pm - A south Auckland community worker has high hopes the cannabis referendum results come back 'no'.

Salvation Army spokesperson Ronji Tanielu says the country is not prepared for the wider social impact of legalising the drug.

"It is damaging for the person themselves and also for those that they love and the people and the whanau and the community that they come from and so, they have ripple effects to their family and their wider communities," he told Newshub.

But Massey University's drug research team leader says there could be great benefits if recreational cannabis becoming legal.

Associate Professor Chris Wilkins says it could reduce arrests and create more jobs.

11:40am - If the End of Life Choice Act referendum passes (meaning more than 50 percent vote 'yes'), then the Act comes into force in roughly 12 months. There's no need for any more debate in Parliament as the legislation has already been passed. If the 'no' option gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the Act won't come into force.

If the cannabis referendum passes, that doesn't mean you'll be off smoking weed this weekend. Instead, the incoming Government would have to still introduce the proposed Bill to Parliament, allowing it to go through the normal processes. That may mean the Bill is changed at different stages with the public having an opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas. 

However, if more than 50 percent of people vote 'no', nothing changes and cannabis won't be legalised.

If either of the referendum results are tight at 2pm, we will need to wait until next Friday (when the special votes are counted and the officials results are declared) to know if it passed.

11:25am - The AM Show's political panel of Simon Bridges and David Parker gave their predictions for the results on Friday morning.

The National Party MP said "it is pretty simple".

"On euthanasia, I would predict a relatively strong win for that. So a yes vote. On the cannabis, much tougher to say but I would say a close lose. But I wouldn't be surprised with anything," Bridges said.

Parker agrees and says he voted for both. 

"But I don't feel particularly attached to the outcome. On the cannabis one, I actually want the minimum amount of cannabis damage in the country which is why I voted for it. But it's a bit of a line call."

He said cannabis is already available on the black market.

Bridges and Parker.
Bridges and Parker. Photo credit: The AM Show.

11:15am - NORML NZ (the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) said Friday marked the day "we discover if myths or facts won the referendum". 

Many of the pre-election polls on the cannabis referendum showed it would not pass, but there were some which highlighted more support. NORML said the polls had been "notoriously volatile". 

"We gave it everything and are feeling quietly confident. But with such a close vote we will need compromise and consensus moving forward," said spokesperson Chris Fowlie on Friday morning.

"Whichever side gets the most votes should recognise almost half the country voted the other way. So I'd expect, if Yes wins, that the Bill would change to reflect the concerns some people had. Likewise if No wins there must still be reforms, just not this Bill in that form."

NORML said special votes next week could "tip the results in favour of Yes, because they include overseas voters, prisoners, late enrolments and those who moved address. A close loss today could be overturned next week".

11:05am - A post-election poll was released on Thursday showing the majority of Kiwis voted 'yes' in the euthanasia poll.

The poll was conducted between Sunday and Tuesday night and was weighted to gender, age and area from the 2017 election and also to party vote for the 2020 election.

Those taking part were asked: 'In the referendum on support for the End of Life Choice Act, did you vote yes or no?'

  • 61 percent of respondents said they voted 'yes' 
  • 29 percent said they voted 'no'
  • 10 percent were 'unsure/refused to answer'

11am - Ahead of the election the leaders of Labour and National were repeatedly asked which way they would vote on the cannabis referendum.

While National's Judith Collins said she didn't support the proposed Bill, Labour's Jacinda Ardern refused to give an answer, instead saying she would reveal her choice after the results had been released.

10:50am - What was the End of Life choice referendum all about?

The questions Kiwis were asked at the ballot box was: Do you support the End of Life Choice Act 2019 coming into force?

You can read the Act here. While it has passed through Parliament, it requires more than 50 percent of people to vote 'yes' to come into force.

"The Act gives people with a terminal illness the option of requesting assisted dying," the Government referendum website says.

So who would be eligible for assisted dying? They must: 

  • 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 6 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."

On the last of those bullet points, it says someone must be able to make an "informed decision". Who would be considered able to make an informed decision? The Government website says:

Under the Act, a person is able to make an informed decision about assisted dying if they can do ALL of the following things:

  • understand information about assisted dying
  • remember information about assisted dying in order to make the decision
  • use or weigh up information about assisted dying when making their decision
  • communicate their decision in some way.

The choice must be freely made, meaning the doctor "must do their best to make sure that a person's choice to ask for assisted dying is their own".

"If, at any time, the doctor or nurse practitioner thinks a person is being pressured about their decision, they must stop the process.

"A health practitioner is not allowed to suggest that a person consider assisted dying when providing a health service to them."

For more details, click here.

10:35am - Swarbrick, the new MP for Auckland Central, has been an advocate for the proposed cannabis legalisation and control Bill. She's expected to respond to the results on Friday afternoon. 

In a Facebook post on Friday morning, Swarbrick said it could be very close.

"There's every chance this could be as close as the 1910's alcohol prohibition referendum. Back then, in a voting population of half a million, prohibition won by ~13,000 votes on initial votes until ~40k specials from soldiers came in, tipping "continuance" to win," Swarbrick writes.

"Whatever happens, I'm proud to have worked with advocates, communities, experts and organisers on a consistently evidence-based, compassionate and rational campaign. Whatever happens, we've progressed the dialogue around drug harm reduction, addiction, mental health and substance abuse in this country by light years. Whatever happens, there’s more work to do."

10:30am - What was the cannabis legalisation and control referendum all about?

The question Kiwis were asked at the ballot box was: Do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill?

You can read the proposed Bill here.

"The proposed Bill sets out a way for the Government to control and regulate cannabis. This regulatory model covers how people can produce, supply, or consume cannabis," the Government referendum website says.

The Bill - which has not passed through Parliament yet - doesn't cover medicinal cannabis, hemp, driving while impaired, workplace health and safety. These are covered by existing laws.

Under the Bill, people would be allowed to possess and consume cannabis in some circumstances. 

A person aged 20 or over would be able to:

  • buy up to 14 grams of dried cannabis (or its equivalent) per day only from licensed outlets
  • enter licensed premises where cannabis is sold or consumed
  • consume cannabis on private property or at licensed premises
  • grow up to 2 plants, with a maximum of 4 plants per household
  • share up to 14 grams of dried cannabis (or its equivalent) with another person aged 20 or over.

"The Bill's main purpose is to reduce cannabis-related harm to individuals, families/whānau and communities."

It would do this through the likes of:

  • providing access to legal cannabis that meets quality and potency requirements
  • eliminating the illegal supply of cannabis
  • raising awareness of the health risks associated with cannabis use
  • restricting young people's access to cannabis
  • limiting the public visibility of cannabis
  • requiring health warnings on packaging and at the time of purchase
  • improving access to health and social services, and other kinds of support for families/whānau
  • making sure the response to any breach of the law is fair.

It would also regulate how cannabis is produced and supplied by: 

  • limiting the total amount of licensed cannabis for sale
  • controlling the potency and contents of licensed cannabis and cannabis products
  • applying an excise tax when a product is packaged and labelled for sale
  • setting up a licensing system under which all cannabis-related businesses must hold a licence
  • regulating location and trading hours for premises where cannabis is sold or consumed, in consultation with local communities
  • banning people from importing cannabis and allowing only licensed businesses to import cannabis seeds
  • separating businesses that are licensed to grow cannabis and produce cannabis products from businesses that are licensed to operate premises where cannabis can be sold and consumed.

For more details, click here.

10:10am - Welcome to Newshub's live updates of the results of the two referendums. The Electoral Commission will release the preliminary results at 2pm on Friday. These results do not include the special votes. The official and final results will be released on November 6.

Ahead of the results release, we will look back at what the two referendums were all about and have comment from experts about what they are expecting. 

Here are two explainers of the cannabis and end of life referendums: