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Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill (No 3)

Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill (No 3)

Regulating low-risk psychoactive substances, such as BZP, is a step closer after the Health Committee reported the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill (No 3) back to the House today. The bill amends two main areas of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 (the principal Act) and related legislation. After considering Supplementary Order Paper 298, the Health Committee has proposed amendments to the bill creating a new category, restricted substances.

The Health Committee has agreed that low-risk substances used for a psychoactive response should be regulated in new amendments to the principal Act. The Health Committee has recommended the inclusion of BZP on the list of restricted substances.

Committee chairperson Steve Chadwick notes the general consensus amongst committee members that low-risk psychoactive substances need to be regulated. "We all agree that substances such as BZP require regulation. This view was initially presented by the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs, and further strengthened by evidence we heard on the bill. As we still have reservations about the safety of BZP, we think that restrictions and guidelines need to be in place. We expect the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs will continue to monitor research on the level of harm associated with BZP and assess the risk it poses," Mrs Chadwick said.

The committee recommends a framework for regulating restricted substances. Substances would be listed in a new Schedule, which could be amended by Order in Council. Restricted substances could be subject to restrictions and requirements relating to advertising, distribution, manufacturing, sale, and supply.

"We considered carefully the mechanism for regulating low-risk substances, and are confident that the addition of substances to the new Schedule via the Order in Council process will ensure regulation can be applied in a swift manner. We have also recommended that substances placed in the new Schedule be subject to a number of restrictions, including limiting sales to those over 18. We consider such measures are important to offer some protection for the users of such substances," Mrs Chadwick said.

The bill also amends the presumption of supply quantity for methamphetamine, creates new offences of importing and exporting precursor substances, and creates powers of search and seizure without warrant for precursor substances. It proposes to reverse the onus of proof for the offence of possessing a needle or syringe, from the defendant to the prosecution.

"We consider the reversal of the onus of proof for the possession of needles and syringes will encourage more injecting drug users to use the Needle and Syringe Exchange Programme and welcome this change," Mrs Chadwick said.


Copies of the committee's report can be purchased from Bennetts Government Bookshops, or viewed at http://www.clerk.parliament.govt.nz/cgi-bin/select-reports

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