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Government to reclassify Meth as class A

Statement from the Ministerial Action Group on Alcohol and Drugs

Government to reclassify methamphetamine as class A

Cabinet has approved the reclassification of methamphetamine to class A from class B and the classification of four similar drugs.

Ministerial Action Group on Alcohol and Drugs Chair, Jim Anderton, and Police Minister George Hawkins said today the proposed moves will allow harsher penalties for those caught making or possessing these drugs.

“It would also mean police have greater powers of intervention when they suspect methamphetamine is being manufactured, sold or used,” Jim Anderton said.

The announcement is the first of six before Christmas from the Ministerial Action Group aimed at cracking down on illegal drug use and the misuse of alcohol.

“In New Zealand several murders, as well as heart attacks and strokes, have been associated with methamphetamines, there is a growing number of labs, and it is clear the time has come to deliver a tough unequivocal message against the manufacture, sale and use of this dangerous drug,” Jim Anderton said.

The Ministerial Action Group will be sending out the action plan to Non Government Organisations for consultation, as well as making announcements on alcohol and young people, drug rape, and alcohol enforcement, he said.

Police Minister George Hawkins said the reclassification of methamphetamine would assist police in combating one of the most dangerous illegal drugs.

“Clandestine laboratories produce unstable and volatile chemicals with fire or explosion serious concerns also.

“In the US most clandestine laboratories are discovered due to fire and many have exploded, causing death and injury not just to those in the laboratory but also posing harm to anyone in the vicinity,” he said.

“The good news is Police have closed around 125 clandestine methamephetamine laboratories this year, compared with 37 during 2001. Police work in this area has been excellent,” Mr Hawkins said.

The Ministerial Action Group on Alcohol and Drugs is responsible for the Government’s campaign to minimize harm caused by alcohol and illicit drug use. The plan will focus on reducing demand, controlling supply and limiting problems associated with alcohol and drug use. The Group includes Associate Health Minister, Jim Anderton; Justice Minister, Phil Goff; Education Associate Minister, Lianne Dalziel; Police Minister, George Hawkins; Youth Affairs Minister, John Tamihere; Customs Minister Rick Barker; and Health Associate Minister Damien O’Connor.

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