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Drugs Amendment part of balanced strategy

Drugs Amendment part of balanced anti-drugs strategy

16 June 2005

The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill (No. 3), which was enacted by a large majority in Parliament today, is about updating New Zealand's drug laws and making them more responsive to the latest drug use trends, says Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton.

"This government has 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 very dangerous drugs, like the manufacturers and importers of methamphetamine and its ingredients. Our strategy involves increasing the amount of public investment on reducing the demand for drugs through community-based education and action programmes.

"Our strategy also includes investing more in the treatment services to help former drug users to get back on their feet and live a drug-free lifestyle. It also involves investing into researching 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. 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 new law fits within that multi-faceted, balanced strategy," Jim Anderton said.

Key Features of today's law change are it:

- 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 pseudoephedrine which are used for the manufacture of methamphetamine;

- 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.

ENDS


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