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Anderton still considering experts' advice

13 December 2006

Anderton still considering experts' advice on party pills

Jim Anderton, Associate Minister of Health, has received advice from the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs (EACD) and is still considering it, along with other relevant matters that he is bound to consider by statute.

Reports that the Minister would be putting a paper to Cabinet today on this issue are not correct. Mr Anderton is giving the matter serious consideration and will fully inform Cabinet in due course.

The Minister pointed out that there are legal requirements around his decision-making powers that need to be satisfied. "And it is important that I fully comply with those requirements."

"There are those calling for the immediate tightening of regulations or banning or both, based on nothing more than gut feeling, anecdotes and concern. This government has an 'evidence-based' policy. As soon as I became aware of party pills, I acted to establish legislation to regulate and restrict the use of these substances.

"Now that I have further expert advice on the basis of research into the effects of BZP, which I commissioned, I am giving it the serious consideration that it deserves. Having waited this long to get more evidence around BZP, I am not going to rush this process just because there are those who continually stand on the sidelines accusing me of inaction for their own narrow political interests," Mr Anderton said.

Backgrounder
The EACD is a statutory committee of experts, established under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975, which is tasked with advising the Minister on drug classification matters under that Act. Under the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act 2005 the committee was given the function to carry out evaluations of substances to assess whether they should be restricted substances and if so, make recommendations to the Minster responsible for drug policy on the appropriate restrictions or requirements.

The Minister under both Acts is required to consider the advice of the EACD and to have regard to matters listed in the Acts such as prevalence, levels of consumption, risks to public health, international classification and other matters before making a recommendation to the Governor-General that an Order in Council is made to classify or reclassify or restrict a substance under these Acts.

Although the Order in Council process is a shorter legislative process it can still take time as it requires Health select committee scrutiny and an affirmative resolution from Parliament.

Further information on the Order in Council process can be found at www.ndp.govt.nz

ENDS

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