Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Committee gives NZ drug law reform "green light"

Health Committee gives "green light" for NZ drug law reform

Mild Green news report, Monday 17 July 2000

Sweeping change to New Zealand drug law is likely to proceed under the Misuse of Drugs Amendments Bill (No 4) - as reported with amendments from Parliament's health select committee late in June.

With scarcely a reference to marijauna, the committee's report is a nevertheless an "unmistakable green light for drug law reform", according to Christchurch Mild Greens, Kevin O'Connell and Blair Anderson.

The new legislation promotes evidence-based assessment of new and existing substances. It also mandates the balanced expertise of a statutory drugs advisory committee - to provide "stable and reliable advice on the classification of drugs". The Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs (EACD) "should have a role in increasing public awareness of its work", and would work directly with the Minister and the health select committee itself.

The select committee's 9 page commentary acknowledges that application of present laws is occuring with "neither sufficient rigor, nor technical input", and that there is a need for expeditious modification of procedure and policy.

Christchurch Central MP Tim Barnett's revealed that the Health Committee had adopted the reform position on cannabis "in line with democratic process", at the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party's national conference last weekend. According to the Mild Greens, NZ's National Drug Policy now is set to become legally empowered for the first time in 25 years with the will to do good".

Committee commentary goes so far as to acknowledge the New Zealand Bill of Rights, and considers the reversal of "onus of proof" in cases of possession for supply. The health committee has recommended that when established, the expert advisory committee "review current assumptions from a technical perspective and advise the Minister of a consistent, reasonable and fair approach for all classified substances".

The select committee, chaired by Labour's Otaki M.P. Judy Keall, also unanimously supports submitters' recommendations regarding a consumer representative on the drugs advisory committee to assist in an ongoing process of fine tuning legislation.

Mr O'Connell said he commended the Health Committee for some strong analysis, but questioned the exclusion of equitable positions for cannabis, alcohol and tobacco from direct discussion, given that there were double standards in their existing status highlighted by the 1998 health select committee inquiry into cannabis, and public submissions on the bill.

Blair Anderson who is in Wellington negotiating with the anti-reform education accord, says Government has an obligation to acknowledge in law that certain illegal drugs could be shown to be on balance, to be clinically no worse than the notoriously problematic legal drugs. The Mild Greens said that although the bill represented another nail in the coffin of cannabis prohibition, the public needed to consider the apparent ringfencing of alcohol and tobacco given that these drugs appeared to deserve class A classification on the basis of their potential for harm.

Either way the scene could be set for a lively debate in the house on the Bill. The Mild Greens challenge Government, in the spirit of the legislation, to resolving the simmering marijuana debate with an additional clause: - this would amend the principle Act so that personal cannabis cultivation and possession by adults is no longer an offence- as recommended by all Green Parties of Aotearoa.

The sooner MDA#4 hits the House for debate, the better say the Mild Greens. It's time Parliament took a moderate approach to New Zealand's popular "psychotropic" herb - and cracked down instead on the spread of prohibition-related harm.

Kevin O'Connell, c/- 389-4065

Blair Anderson, blair@technologist.com

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

New Reports: Flood Risk From Rain And Sea Under Climate Change

One report looks at what would happen when rivers are flooded by heavy rain and storms, while the other examines flooding exposure in coastal and harbour areas and how that might change with sea-level rise.

Their findings show that across the country almost 700,000 people and 411,516 buildings worth $135 billion are presently exposed to river flooding in the event of extreme weather events...

There is near certainty that the sea will rise 20-30 cm by 2040. By the end of the century, depending on whether global greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, it could rise by between 0.5 to 1.1 m, which could add an additional 116,000 people exposed to extreme coastal storm flooding. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Commerce Commission Fuel Report

The interim Commerce Commission report on the fuel industry will do nothing to endear the major oil companies to the New Zealand public... More>>


Emergency Govt Bill: Overriding Local Licensing For The Rugby

“It’s pretty clear some clubs are having difficulty persuading their district licensing committees to grant a special licence to extend their hours for this obviously special event, and so it makes sense for Parliament to allow clubs to meet a community desire." More>>


Leaving Contract Early: KiwiBuild Programme Losing Another Top Boss

Ms O'Sullivan began a six-month contract as head of KiwiBuild Commercial in February, but the Housing Ministry has confirmed she has resigned and will depart a month early to take up a new job. More>>


Proposed National Policy Statement: Helping Our Cities Grow Up And Out

“We need a new approach to planning that allows our cities to grow up, especially in city centres and around transport connections. We also have to allow cities to expand in a way that protects our special heritage areas, the natural environment and highly productive land." More>>


Ombudsman's Report: Ngāpuhi Elder 'Shocked' By Conditions At Ngawha Prison

A prominent Ngāpuhi elder is shocked to find inmates at Ngawha Prison are denied water and forced to relieve themselves in the exercise yard... Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier has released a report highly critical of conditions at the Northland prison. More>>


Promises: Independent Election Policy Costing Unit A Step Closer

The creation of an entity to provide political parties with independent and non-partisan policy costings is a step closer today, according to Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Associate Finance Minister James Shaw. More>>


School's In: Primary And Intermediate Principals Accept New Offer

Primary and intermediate school principals have voted to accept a new settlement from the Ministry of Education, which includes entrenched pay parity with secondary principals. More>>


IPCA On 'Rawshark' Investigation: Multiple Police Failings In Hager Searches Confirmed

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that the Police's unlawful search of Nicky Hager's property in October 2014 resulted from an unwitting neglect of duty and did not amount to misconduct by any individual officer... More>>


Broadcasting Standards: Decisions On Coverage Of Mosque Attacks

The Authority upheld one of these complaints, finding that the use of extensive excerpts from the alleged attacker’s livestream video on Sky News New Zealand had the potential to cause significant distress to audiences in New Zealand, and particularly to the family and friends of victims, and the wider Muslim community. More>>




InfoPages News Channels