New Zealanders may get the opportunity to vote on legalising cannabis and voluntary euthanasia at the same time, possibly as early as next year.
Labour agreed to hold a public referendum on legalising cannabis for personal use at or before the 2020 general election as part of its confidence and supply agreement with the Greens.
The Government now says it could be held ahead of the election to make sure it did not overshadow the election campaign.
Parliament is also considering a bill to legalise voluntary euthanasia, and NZ First has said its support is conditional on a binding referendum on the law change.
The bill’s sponsor, Act Party leader David Seymour, has agreed to that proposal, though it will still need majority support in Parliament to proceed.
Justice Minister Andrew Little said there could be some benefits to holding two referenda at the same time.
“If you’re going to do one, you might as well do a job lot,” he said.
“It would make sense to not have to spend a lot of money on a succession of referenda.”
There could also be some value in holding a referendum outside the election period, Little said.
Cabinet had not yet considered the cannabis referendum, but when it did the date would be one of its considerations.