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Government takes more action on Methamphetamines

Government takes more action on Methamphetamines

Life will get a lot tougher for people who manufacture and or supply methamphetamines in New Zealand. There will also be increased emphasis on helping victims of the drug.

The Methamphetamine Action Plan released today outlines greater search and seizure powers for Police and powers for Customs to seize unlicenced imports of the ingredients for methamphetamines, improved community education and more comprehensive drug monitoring surveillance data to support enforcement.

The Labour Progressive Coalition Government’s Methamphetamine Action Plan is designed to control supply, reduce demand and limit the problems that methamphetamine is creating in New Zealand. The measures build on existing programmes and initiatives.

“Methamphetamine has no place in New Zealand. The damage to individuals, families and communities is horrific. This action plan is designed to confront the problem at both a national and local level. While dealing vigourously with those how make money from this scourge, we also need to ensure that we are supporting people who are addicted or whose lives have already been severely affected or destroyed by the drug,” said Jim Anderton.

“Meeting Coolio, the rap star who spoke about his experiences of the drug culture in the United States, and who has been talking up and down New Zealand about the disastrous effect of hard drugs, reinforced for me the need for community action. Such action programmes encourage and support local people to address methamphetamine issues. This Methampehatmine Action plan includes funding of such community initiatives.

Already one item on the action plan, reclassification of Methamphetamine as a class A drug has been addressed and will be law by the end of May.

The plan has 19 action points and recommendations including: Controlling supply Changes to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 to allow increased powers for Police and Customs in relation to precursor supply control, particularly powers for Customs to seize unlicensed imports of precursors and extend warrantless search and seizure powers to Police for precursor substances. Improved drug monitoring and surveillance systems, including more specific Police offence codes for methamphetamine offences, the establishment of a comprehensive illicit drug monitoring system, and exploring the potential to add New Zealand sites to the Drug Use Monitoring Australia (DUMA) programme of drug-testing people detained in police cells. Improved resourcing of Police and Customs drug enforcement services to provide greater intelligence and investigative capacity to respond to the current and future methamphetamine situation.

Reducing demand The set up of Community Action Programmes to target communities with methamphetamine problems, focusing on community ownership and solutions with support from Public Health and public health providers. These have been allocated funding and will be implemented. The set up of Community Action Programmes focussing on building resilience amongst producer, supplier, user communities (eg gangs) and to encourage self-prohibition on methamphetamine, (eg Rahui placed by Maori elders). Improving public health and education drug resources with improved information on methamphetamine.

Limiting problems Improved resourcing of treatment services to allow for a greater level of training. Supporting greater liaison with Australian health services on current methamphetamine treatment projects. Develop, in consultation with treatment providers and clinical services, a methamphetamine treatment protocol. Focus on behavioural change treatment approaches, as they have been proven to be a successful form of methamphetamine dependence treatment. Further investigation into the effectiveness of Section 13(1)(aa) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975, that makes it an offence to possess needles and syringes, and the Medicines Regulations 1984, that provides a defence. Workforce development for drug educators (eg teachers and public health nurses) and first interventions workers (eg youth workers) focused on information on methamphetamine and associated issues, recognition of problems and appropriate referral options. Improved support and supervision mechanisms for those, such as police and treatment workers, whose work brings them into direct contact with methamphetamine users. Assessment of training needs of emergency department hospital staff to deal with methamphetamine related admissions.

Research Improve information gathering on methamphetamine, including ways of dealing with clandestine laboratories and their effects. This will be enhanced by placing a Health intelligence analyst at the National Drug Intelligence Bureau (funding for which has been provided in the Budget). Further research into the morbidity and mortality rates associated with methamphetamine use – eg set up a register of methamphetamine related deaths or injury/illnesses. Improved analysis of methamphetamine related apprehension and seizure statistics (this will be aided by the phasing in of more specific Police offence codes for methamphetamine offences, and establishment of a comprehensive illicit drug monitoring system). Outcome research of treatment options. Regular meetings/symposiums to be organised to bring treatment, research and policy fields, as well as drug educators and first intervention workers, together on aspects of methamphetamine and other drug use.

The Action Plan represents a stocktake of existing measures to combat Methamphetamine and the linking together of agencies to ensure a ‘whole-of-government’ approach.

A particular emphasis of Government will be working in partnership with Maori communities to address Methamphetamine use.

The Ministerial Action Group on Alcohol and Drugs is responsible for the Government’s campaign to minimise harm caused by alcohol and illicit 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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