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Review of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975

Media Release
19 March 2008

Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Palmer
Law Commission

Review of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975

“The Law Commission’s review of the Misuse of Drugs Act is attracting a lot of attention,” the President of the Law Commission said today.

“The Terms of Reference for this inquiry are attached. The Law Commission will be following its usual processes of publishing an issues paper and taking public submissions on it in due course,” Sir Geoffrey said.

“Some people will be concerned these Terms of Reference do not include alcohol and tobacco.

“The Law Commission takes the view that the project would be unmanageably large if these were included. The exclusion of these substances from the terms of reference does not preclude the Commission from taking into account the relative harms of these and other substances.”

“Lessons learnt from the regulation of alcohol and tobacco will be taken on board in the course of this review.”


Misuse of Drugs Act Review
Terms of Reference

The Commission will review the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 and make proposals for a new legislative regime consistent with New Zealand’s international obligations concerning illegal and other drugs.

The issues to be considered by the Commission will include:

(a) Whether the legislative regime should reflect the principle of harm minimisation underpinning the National Drug Policy;
(b) What is the most suitable model or models for the control of drugs;
(c) Which substances the statutory regime should cover;
(d) How should new psychoactive substances be treated;
(e) Whether drugs should continue to be subject to the current classification system or should be categorised by some alternative process or mechanism;
(f) If a classification system for categorising drugs is retained, is the current placement of substances appropriate;
(g) The appropriate offence and penalty structure;
(h) Whether the existing statutory dealing presumption should continue to apply in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hansen case;
(i) Whether the enforcement powers proposed by the Commission in its report on Search and Surveillance Powers are adequate to investigate drug offences;
(j) What legislative framework provides the most suitable structure to reflect the linkages between drugs and other similar substances;
(k) Which agency or agencies should be responsible for the administration of the legislative regime.

It is not intended that the Commission will make recommendations with respect to the regulation of alcohol or tobacco in undertaking this review.


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