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Nandor supports Ministry of Health on drug testing

18 August 2002

Nandor supports Ministry of Health on harm minimisation

Green MP Nandor Tanczos today returned fire on critics of kits to test dance party drugs, saying their comments were off the wall when the Ministry of Health itself promoted a harm minimisation approach to the use of dance party drugs.

Detective Inspector Gary Knowles was today reported as saying 'Anyone who is marketing these test kits is encouraging drug taking that is illegal'.

Nandor said that was nonsense. "Was Jenny Shipley promoting drug use when she was the Minister of Health? I don't think so."

In 1999 the Ministry published its 'Guidelines for SAFE Dance Parties' in which it was noted that: 'the guidelines do not condone illegal drug use in any manner but note the realities that some people will choose to use drugs at dance parties. For those that do use, the information in these guidelines seeks to minimise the harm caused by that drug use.'

Nandor also criticised ACT MP Stephen Franks for jumping into the issue before finding out the facts.

"Stephen Franks was reported as saying that MPs should set an example and people in positions of power or privilege could not expect to be treated more leniently than others.

"I have always said that if saving lives is a crime then lock me up. I am not asking for lenient treatment and I think I am setting a good example.

"Lets be clear. I do not use any of these drugs. I do not support the use of these drugs. I urge people not to take them. The effects are unpredictable and, as the Ministry notes in its guidelines, it is difficult for people to know what they are taking.

"But we have to be real and face up to the fact that some people are taking them, despite the law. Like the Ministry I am concerned with how we protect the health of all people, including those who do choose to use drugs."

Nandor said there was alarming variation in the composition of dance party drugs, including toxins and poisons, and people deciding to use them should have the ability and the right to know what they were taking.

"For people that do choose to use drugs I think it is good that they can buy a small, simple and legal testing kit which will alert them to the presence of dangerous ingredients that may harm or kill them. Of course nothing short of a gas chromatography test is totally accurate but these tests are much better than nothing.

"The Government's Ministry of Health has recognised the reality that people are using these drugs. There is no point pretending otherwise.

"While we should do everything we can to educate people on the risks of using drugs and encourage them not to, we should also be doing everything we can to minimise the harm and the damage that these drugs can cause.

"To do anything less is playing politics with people's lives," said Nandor.

See the Ministry of Health's 'Guidelines for SAFE Dance Parties':


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