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Re-Classification Alone Not Enough

Re-Classification Alone Not Enough

ACT New Zealand Police Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today welcomed recommendations to re-classify Speed, or methamphetamine, as a Class A drug - but said the new label would be meaningless if police were unable to use their new powers.

"The recommendation, from the Health Ministry's expert advisory committee on drugs, would mean that dealers and users would face stiffer penalties - but that is only if police are able to catch offenders," Dr Newman said.

"Police have already said they cannot keep up with the explosion of the drug - the manufacture of which has grown 300 percent in the past year. If police are not able to enforce this new classification, the Class A label will mean little.

"Methamphetamine has already been blamed for the increase in violent crime, and been linked to a number of high profile cases - including those of RSA triple-killer William Bell and sword attacker Antonie Ronnie Dixon. Merely giving this highly addictive drug a new label will not prevent further use and subsequent violence.

"Through the re-classification of methamphetamine as a Class A drug, offenders will face stiffer penalties - including life imprisonment for manufacture, importation or supply, up to 14 years imprisonment for conspiracy to commit an offence, or up to six months imprisonment and/or a $1,000 fine for possession.

"Waging war on methamphetamine must become a police priority. This means giving police the mandate and the resources to fight and win this war.

"Already police are saying they lack the manpower to get on top of the problem. The drug-testing laboratory is hampered by a lack of funding. Unless the Minister addresses these issues, the new classification will have little effect.

"Police urgently need the ability to enforce the new classification and to hand out stiffer penalties, so that criminals will see that methamphetamine crime truly does not pay," Dr Newman said.

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