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Misuse of Drugs amendments a missed opportunity

15 September, 2004

Misuse of Drugs amendments a missed opportunity

The Government is missing a golden opportunity to provide an integrated legislative framework to deal effectively and realistically with the control of alcohol and other drugs, Green MP Nandor Tanczos said today.

The Government's Misuse of Drugs Act Amendment Bill had its first reading today (Wednesday).

"This amendment simply continues the piecemeal approach to drug legislation and enforcement," said Nandor, the Green Party's spokesperson for Drug Policy.

"If New Zealand is to properly control of alcohol and other drugs, an integrated approach must be taken that includes all substances - alcohol, tobacco, other drugs and even caffeine.

"This Bill does some good things. We support improvements to the needle exchange programmes to stem the tide of HIV and Hepatitis C, while the presence of a Ministry of Justice official on the EACD is essential to evaluate the civil rights implications of policy decisions.

"The extension of 'search without warrant' powers to precursors is a concern," said Nandor. "These powers are routinely abused, and the extension is unnecessary. Precursors are for manufacturing into P, so there is always enough time to source a warrant from a judge.

"Jim Anderton's SOP to include a new schedule to the Act echoes what myself and the EACD suggested earlier this year. I support its introduction and want to be sure that it will be discussed at Select Committee so submitters will be able to make representations on this issue.

"However, it does not go far enough. The opportunity to develop an integrated framework for the control of drugs has been lost in favour of a raft of piecemeal amendments to fractured and unworkable law.

The schedules should be simplified and expanded to enable a gradient of controls, such as sale from licensed premises only, unlicensed sale with R18 restrictions and prohibiting the sale of substances but allowing personal use," said Nandor.

The Green Party will be unveiling a coherent, consistent and integrated legislative framework for controlling alcohol, tobacco and other drugs this month, launched by Nandor Tanczos and Green Party Health spokesperson Sue Kedgley.

ENDS

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