Turia Dallies On Fantasy And Ecstacy
Dr Paul Hutchison National Associate Health Spokesperson
4 December 2001
Turia dallies on fantasy and ecstacy
Lives continue to be put at risk while the Government procrastinates over the reclassification of dangerous designer drugs, National's Associate Health spokesperson Dr Paul Hutchison said today.
"Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia last year proposed to implement rapid classification of designer drugs such as fantasy and ecstacy.
"More than a year later, one death later, and more than 100 admissions to Auckland Hospital later, nothing has happened, despite police and doctors calls for the drugs to be classified as at least Class B drugs.
"Minister Tariana Turia and her Government are not taking the need to reclassify designer drugs seriously.
"By not addressing this serious issue and growing issue of designer drug use, more people are at risk of overdoses. The risk is even higher over summer in particular, the traditional festive and party season.
Last year The Misuse of Drugs Act was changed to provide a mechanism for rapid classification of high risk drugs. Previously, drug dealers could change a drug formula to avoid a designer drug being classified Class A or Class B (very high and high risk). Conviction for dealing in Class B drugs carries a prison term of up to 14 years.
Under the new Act an 'expert committee' recommends to the Minister if a drug should be reclassified. Tariana Turia has the delegated responsibility for illicit drugs.
"I have been urging the Health Select Committee, through the Chairperson Judy Keall, to put pressure on the Minister to act on this issue for over six months.
"Tariana Turia and the Government have simply been dopey over drugs - the whole point of the law change was to have a rapid mechanism but here we are a year later and nothing has happened.
"Illicit drugs are a serious problem. There is no excuse for the Minister to take over one year to implement a change that could have already saved lives," said Dr Hutchison.