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Anderton seeks to upgrade "Speed" classification

Sunday 23 May 2004
Media release

Anderton seeks to upgrade "Speed" classification

Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton said today that he has accepted the recommendations of the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs to reclassify amphetamine, also known as "speed,” as a Class B1 controlled drug, a higher grade than its current Class B2 status.

"I accept the experts' advice that this move is appropriate to better reflect the risk of harm associated with this drug," the Progressive leader said.

A B1 classification would mean that police officers are better able to take immediate action when they suspect drug-related offending involving "speed," he said.

Jim Anderton says he has also accepted the EACD's recommendation that the presumption of supply for "speed" be reduced to 5 grams from 56 grams.

A lowering of the presumption of supply for this drug will mean that anyone in possession of five grams or more of "speed" or 100 flakes, tablets or capsules containing at least some amount of amphetamine, will be legally presumed to be suppliers which is a move which will deliver police a wider net for catching suppliers.

"Speed" is a drug similar to methamphetamine. Both come under the broad heading of "amphetamine-type stimulants" or ATS drugs.

Amphetamine use is associated with violent and aggressive behaviour. Both self–injury and violence toward others are common occurances in the acute phase of amphetamine-induced psychosis. Amphetamine also undoubtedly has the potential to cause death, although the number of deaths is uncertain.

New Zealand drug surveys indicate there has been an increase in ATS use. Police and Customs seizures have also increased.

Drug reclassficiations require majority support in Parliament.

Factors that were considered by the Expert Advisory Committee when making its latest recommendations on amphetamine were:

- Increasing prevalence of amphetamine use and importation into New Zealand
- Clear evidence of the high risks of harm associated with amphetamine, and limited number of therapeutic applications for the drug
- Evidence of drug substitution between amphetamine and other ATS drugs
- Need for decisive police powers to tackle street-level amphetamine offending
- Links between New Zealand’s illicit amphetamine market and organised crime
- Worrying implications of the increasing use of amphetamines for road safety.

The EACD's report will be posted on the National Drug Policy website www.ndp.govt.nz

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