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P a problem the Govt is taking seriously

28 May 2008 Media Statement

P a problem the Govt is taking seriously

The Government takes the scourge of illegal drugs such as methamphetamine (or P) extremely seriously, Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton said today.

Jim Anderton, who is responsible for the Government's drug policy, said that he had received a copy of the report by Methcon director Mike Sabin, and would ensure it was added to the policy mix informing Government decisions.

"Methamphetamine is a serious problem, and the Government is treating it seriously. We are well aware of the level of harm it causes in our communities.

"This Government has worked hard to co-ordinate the response of all Government agencies working in this area, and we have poured extra resources into it.
"For example, $55 million has been allocated to Police, Customs, Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR), and CAYADs to tackle P labs, imports of the drug's components, and community measures.

"The re-classification of methamphetamine as a Class A controlled drug in 2003 gave police powers to search and seize without a warrant, and the re-classification increased the maximum jail term for manufacturing or supplying methamphetamine increasing from 14 years to life imprisonment.

"Further amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act set the presumption of supply for methamphetamine at 5 grams, and provided Police and the Customs Service with enhanced powers to deal with methamphetamine and precursors.

"Further legislation is in the House currently to further enhance enforcement powers."

Jim Anderton said he appreciated the work of non-governmental groups in the drugs field, including that of Mr Sabin.

"However, I'm not sure that recommendations such as proposed in Mr Sabin's report to compulsorily drug test all workers and students, regardless of occupation and risk profile, are that helpful. There has been legal action in this area, and the courts have ruled clearly against such proposals."

He said Mr Sabin was right when he told Parliament's law and order select committee that methamphetamine and other illegal drugs were ``not just a police issue, it's not just a health issue, it's not just the criminal justice system, its not just corrections... it must be coordinated".

"But he is wrong to say there is no national approach on this. We do co-ordinate our approach. All the agencies working in this area are doing so together, and we have a structure in place to make sure of that."


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