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Govt agrees with experts - class B for Fantasy

The government agrees that Fantasy should be classified as Class B, Associate Health Minister Hon Tariana Turia announced today.

“The fantasy range of drugs, which includes Gamma hydroxy butyrate (GHB), 1,4 butanediol, (1,4-B) and GBL should be classified as Class B drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975,” Tariana Turia said.

“Three people were hospitalised over the weekend after taking Fantasy. We need to ensure that people realise the danger they are putting themselves in, if they decide to take it.

“The drug is a depressant of the central nervous system, small doses have a relaxant effect, produce short term amnesia, while slightly higher doses can stop people breathing, cause seizures and coma.

“It is important to know that the same dose can affect people in different ways. One of the risks arises, because it has a delayed effect, so there is a much great risk of people overdosing because they take additional doses after a short time. A euphoric dose for one person could sedate another person.

“The Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs recommendation is evidence based and has specifically suggested the Fantasy range of drugs be listed under Part One of Class B. Cabinet has agreed to the recommendation.

“Offences relating to Class B drugs carry penalties of up to 14 years imprisonment for the importation, manufacture or supply, up to 10 years imprisonment for conspiracy to commit an offence, and up to 3 months imprisonment, or $500 fine, or both, for possession.

Tariana Turia said she agreed with the Committee's original recommendation.

"Classification is based on the risk of harm to individuals or society. With these drugs, there is a fine line between achieving the effect the drug taker is seeking, and having an overdose resulting in potentially serious consequences.

The proposed classification will now be referred to the Health select committee for consideration as set out under the Act, early next year.

“To both provide a forum for public scrutiny and bring this drug under the law as swiftly as possible, there is to be a streamlined select committee process. Any law change must then be approved by Parliament.

Tariana Turia said the classification was only one step in a process to decrease harm done by these drugs.

“The most important step now is to improve and develop complementary initiatives, such as the provision of accurate health information on keeping safe in places where these drugs are used. To reduce the harm these drugs can do information must be presented in ways that will ensure it reaches all those that it needs to.

“Reducing availability for supply is also an important aspect in an effort to reduce the harm these drugs can do.

"I am pleased with the amount and depth of research carried out by the Committee before it made its carefully considered recommendation," said Tariana Turia.

The Expert Advisory Committee's report to the Minister is posted on the National Drug Policy Website http://www.ndp.govt.nz.

Ends

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Misuse of Drugs Legislation

In mid-November 2000 the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act was passed.

This new law enables New Zealand to respond more quickly to emerging drug threats than was previously the case. Previously, scheduling of substances under the Act could only be done by way of Parliament amending the Act in the normal way. The passage of amendments to legislation can take some time.

While under the new process parliament will still have the final say, the scheduling of substances will be able to be made on a regular basis and faster than before.

Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs

A vital part of this process will be the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs (EACD), which was been established to advise the Minister of Health. The EACD will:

- Conduct evidence-based reviews of controlled drugs and other narcotic, or, psychotropic substances

- Recommend to the Minister about whether and how such substances should be classified

- Increase public awareness of its work by (for instance) releasing papers, reports and recommendations

Membership of the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs

Dr Bob Boyd Ministry of Health Chief Advisor,

Public Health Directorate (chair)

Dr Stewart Jessamine Medsafe Senior Medical Advisor

Det Insp Harry Quinn NZ Police

Mr Andrew Coleman NZ Customs

Dr Keith Bedford Expertise in toxicology

Assoc Prof Tim Maling Expertise in pharmacology

Dr Helen Moriarty Expertise in community medicine

Dr Geoffrey Robinson Expertise in drug and alcohol treatment

Dr Douglas Sellman Expertise in psychology

Mr Keremete Warbrick Representing the views of consumers of drug treatment services

Terms of Reference

Under the Terms of Reference, there are two ways in which a drug maybe considered by the committee. First, the Minister of Health or the EACD Secretariat may refer a drug to the EACD for consideration. Members of the public can also feed into this process by writing to the EACD Secretariat in the Ministry of Health ww.ndp.govt.nz). Second, the EACD may itself decide to examine the classification of a particular drug.

Details of the drugs to be considered at future Committee meetings are to be published on the National Drug Policy website, and interested parties can make written submissions on drugs the EACD have decided to examine.

However, all written submissions should follow a set format and the EACD will appreciate evidence-based submissions. Full details about the process for written submissions will shortly be available on the National Drug Policy website (ww.ndp.govt.nz).

Hospitalisation through use of Fantasy

A regional breakdown of figures is not available nationally. Local DHBs may be able to assist in this area, however, accuracy cannot be guaranteed, as patients seen or admitted to hospital must voluntarily identify that they have used Fantasy.

Class B

Class B has three parts, B1, B2, and B3. When drugs are classified as B1 as opposed to B2 or B3 police have wider enforcement powers including the ability to search premises and people without a warrant if they have reasonable grounds to believe an offence has been committed under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. The same enforcement powers are applied to drugs scheduled in A and C1.


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