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Anderton - Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill

Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill No. 3 - 3rd Reading

This Bill updates our drug laws to make them more responsive to illicit drug use trends in New Zealand. I know all parties in Parliament understand the importance of such a measure.

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Speech Notes

This Bill updates our drug laws to make them more responsive to drug use trends in New Zealand. I know all parties in Parliament understand the importance of such a measure.

In particular, the Bill:

- Will permit presumption of supply matters to be amended by Order-in-Council, at the same time as a change in classification, subject to the normal affirmative resolution procedure by Parliament (which means that Parliament still gets to decide);

- The Bill sets the presumption-of-supply amount for methamphetamine at five grams, rather than the present default amount of 56 grams;

- It removes the ability for the classification level of a controlled drug to be decreased, or a classification to be removed by Order-in-Council and the affirmative resolution procedure - a change sought by the United Future Party.

- It adds a Ministry of Justice official to the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs;

- It creates new offences relating to the importing and exporting of precursor substances - that is, ingredients like ephedrine and pseudo-ephedrine which are used for the manufacture of methamphetamine;

- It creates new powers of search and seizure without warrant for ephedrine and pseudoephedrine;

- It allows controlled deliveries of precursor substances;

- It retains the offence of possessing a needle or syringe but puts the defence - where the needle or syringe has been obtained lawfully -into the Principal Act (Currently this defence is hidden away in regulations where no one can find it), and moves the onus of proof from the defendent to the prosecution, as recommended by public health experts.

Finally, the Bill:

- Adds a new "restricted substances" part to the legislation, and regulates BZP, the main ingredient found in 'party pills', as the first restricted substance in New Zealand under the terms of the amended legislation.

I would today again like to thank all members of the Health Select Committee for their valuable work on this Bill. They had to tackle complex public health and legal issues within a tight time frame.

I know some Members would have liked a great deal more time to consider a number of the issues arising from this Bill.

But against that, I know the majority of us here understand the need to move as quickly and practically as possible to respond to changing trends in drug abuse.

Since I became associate health minister responsible for the National Drug Policy three years ago, the Labour-Progressive government has put in place a sophisticated strategy to try and turn the tide against the harm being caused by drugs in our society.

Our strategy includes getting very tough on the peddlers of the very dangerous drugs, like the manufacturers and importers of methamphetamine and its precursors.

Our strategy includes increasing the amount of public investment on reducing the demand for drugs through community-based education and action programmes.

Our strategy includes investing more in the treatment services on the ground that need to be there if we are to realistically expect significant numbers of former drug users to get back on their feet and live a drug-free lifestyle.

And our strategy includes investing more in empirical research into the medical, health, social and economic effects that drug abuse is having on individuals, on families and on communities.

To effectively turn the tide against alcohol and other drug abuse we need to work on all fronts at the same time.

I have to say I am disappointed by the public squabbling between some parties advocating, on one the one side, for much more stick but no carrot, and from the other side, for much more carrot and education, but for less stick.

Effectively reducing the harm drug abuse is causing isn't an "either-or" matter.

It is about central government and communities, local government and families, working together on all fronts as appropriate to reduce harm from drug abuse and this Bill before this House fits within that multi-faceted and balanced strategy.

ENDS


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