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Anderton introduces Misuse of Drugs Orders

Anderton introduces Misuse of Drugs Orders

Speech Notes

Misuse of Drugs (Changes to Controlled Drugs) Order 2005/Misuse of Drugs (Presumption of Supply-Amphetamine) Order 2005

I rise to move that under section 4A of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 this House approve the Misuse of Drugs (Changes to Controlled Drugs) Order 2005, and the Misuse of Drugs (Presumption of Supply -Amphetamine) Order 2005.

These Orders demonstrate the Labour-Progressive government's commitment to a National Drug Policy that targets drug use in three ways: through supply control, demand reduction and providing treatment services for the victims of the drug peddlers.

Last year, the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs recommended the reclassification of amphetamine, commonly known as Speed, as well as MDMA or Ecstasy, and I accepted the recommendations.

Both amphetamine and ecstasy are currently classified as controlled drugs under Part 2 of the Second Schedule. That is under Class B2 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.

The Misuse of Drugs (Changes to Controlled Drugs) Order 2005 will reclassify them in Part 1 of the Second Schedule to Class B1.

This reclassification will have the effect of enabling police officers, under section 18 of the Act, to detain, search and seize for these drugs without warrant and reflects the degree of potential risk-of-harm that experts associate with these substances.

These substances are extremely harmful and by supporting this move Parliament is saying that it is not in the public interest for them to be used as so-called 'recreational drugs.'

This reclassification is also consistent with New Zealand's international obligations under the United Nations drug classification framework.

The Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs also recommended that the presumption-of-supply for amphetamine be set at 5 grams. The presumption-of-supply concept is a rebuttable presumption that when a person is found with a certain amount of a controlled drug, he or she possesses the drug for the purpose of dealing by way of sale or supply.

What this means in plain English is that the onus is on the person found with the drug to prove that he or she was not supplying the drug and that the drug was instead intended solely for personal use.

Currently the presumption of supply for amphetamine is 56 grams so the change will have the effect of significantly increasing penalties for offences involving possession of 5 grams of amphetamine as well as between 5 and 56 grams.

"Possession for supply" offences carry a maximum sentence of up to 14 years in prison.

This compares with the offence of possession of a Class B controlled drug, which carries a maximum sentence of 3 months imprisonment or a fine of $500, or both.

In relation to amphetamine the experts found that like its counter-part, methamphetamine, amphetamine can quickly cause addiction, has been linked overseas to violence and can cause psychoses, depression and erratic behaviour.

The EACD identified an increasing number of risks associated with amphetamine's current use and distribution.

Amphetamine's addiction potential carries significant health risks. It is also linked to deaths through cerebral vascular haemorrhage.

The Misuse of Drugs (Presumption of Supply-Amphetamine) Order 2005 therefore better reflects this drug's level of harm to New Zealanders.

MDMA or Ecstasy already has a 5 gram presumption of supply. It was classified Class B2 in 1987.

In relation to Ecstasy the experts recommended reclassification to Class B1 and noted that there is mounting evidence that Ecstasy-type drugs have a neurotoxic effect i.e. it is a poison which acts on the nervous system, and that there are worrying links between New Zealand's MDMA market and organized crime.

Experts also advised in their 2004 report to me that there was an increasing number of cases of attempted MDMA/Ecstasy manufacture in New Zealand and they also noted that MDMA/Ecstasy is classified as a Schedule 1 or Class A drug in other jurisdictions.

Madam Speaker, these Orders are designed to help ensure that enforcement officers have the powers they need and I hope to see them come into force as soon as possible to complement all the other measures that I have overseen as leader of the Progressive party and Associate Minister of Health in this coalition government to target the abuse of drugs in this country.

ENDS

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