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Turia Speech: Classification of Fantasy

16 April 2002

Speech Notes - Hon T Turia

Misuse of Drugs (Classification of Fantasy) Order 2001 - Passing of Notice of Motion

Mr Speaker, I rise to support and reiterated the reasons under section 4A of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975, this House should approve the Misuse of Drugs (Classification of Fantasy) Order 2001.

This Order will make the dangerous range of substances known as Fantasy, that includes Gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GBH) and its related substances including 1,4 butanediol (1,4-B), gamma-butyrolactone (GBL), gamma-aminobutyric (GABA), sodium oxybate controlled drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. These GHB-related substances convert to GHB once ingested into the human body.

This order will make it illegal for the people to possess, produce, manufacture, sell, supply, import, or export these substances.

Fantasy is the first substance to be considered under the more efficient and evidence-based drug classification procedure that Parliament enacted in late 2000.

Too often these days we have people being admitted to accident and emergency wards with life-threatening overdoses from these substances.

The new drug classification process requires drugs to have an evidence-based classified according to the 'risk of harm' they pose to people and society, recommended by the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs, to myself as Minister and with my approval to Cabinet for consideration by the Health Select Committee who then reports back to the House.

Such criteria included the effects of the drug, the evidence of abuse, the risks to public health, the potential for dependence and death from these substances, and relevant international experience.

The Order proposes that Fantasy be classified in Class B1 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, which is at the top of the middle Schedule of the Act. This sends a clear signal regarding the high risk of harm that Fantasy poses.

Class B1 also gives the Police search and seizure powers, so that this drug can be confiscated before it does further harm to people there and then.

This new drug classification process provides a mechanism to further enable the provision of accurate and evidence-based information to the public.

I was very keen to ensure that the Expert Committee's report was made public as soon as possible, and the public has every opportunity to read the comprehensive nature of the report. I will actively encourage this for all future drugs considered.

I also encourage and support community's use of the information, gathered by the Ministry of Health and the Expert Advisory Group, to communicate to their own, the serious nature of this drug and how to minimise the harm from it.

We need accurate and objective information about the risks of drugs, along with key harm minimisation messages to reach the intended audience - those that are most likely to use this drug and those most likely are our young.

The Ministry of Health's Dance Party Guidelines are to be amended to include Fantasy information.

Briefly, the relevant Clauses in the Order are: Clause 2 which notes that a second Order in Council is required to bring this Order into force. The second Order will specify the date that first Order will come into force.

Clause 3 sets out the specific wording to be inserted into the Act that will effectively make Fantasy a Class B1 controlled drug. It seeks a balance between capturing as many of the GHB-related substances as possible - including those that maybe invented in the future, but not including those substances with legitimate uses and no potential use as recreational drugs.

I want to commend the members of the Health Select Committee for their prompt but considered deliberations on the Order. I am satisfied that this process goes a long way towards ensuring a sound decision is made. I also welcome the Regulations Review Committee's consideration of the Order.

As Associate Minister of Health, I am committed to minimising the harm associated with drugs in our community. I believe a major ingredient to this is providing accurate information that is useful in all our communities. This Order is a step towards achieving this goal.

I believe we are still able to speed up this new process further, while ensuring evidence-based decision-making.

Officials have gleaned many lessons from this first use of the new process. We are keen to ensure these lessons are used for a timely progression for other drugs needing to be put through the new classification process.

Accordingly, I support this Order.

Thank you Mr Speaker.

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