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Complete rethink needed of all drug laws

Complete rethink needed of all drug laws

NORML has advised the Ministry of Health a complete rethink is needed of all drug control laws and policies.

In it’s submission to the discussion document on the New National Drug Policy, New Zealand’s longest running cannabis law reform group said the lack of any willingness to look at first principles, and the missed opportunity to place the NDP in a world context, is especially sad given that NZ is now taking a world-leading initiative with “legal highs”.

“At a time when countries around the world are experimenting with alternative approaches to controlling drugs by implementing policies that reject the failed War on Drugs, this new National Drug Policy seems to be saying “let’s have more of the same”,” said NORML president Chris Fowlie, of Auckland.

Mr Fowlie pointed to NORML’s endorsement of the Wellington Declaration, a consensus on a way forward for New Zealand’s national drug policy.

“The consensus is that cannabis use should be a health issue, not a crime. There should be safe, legal access to medicinal cannabis. We believe there should be an adults-only regulated and taxable market for cannabis and other low risk drugs, and New Zealand’s world-leading Psychoactive Substances Act should be widened to include all low risk drugs, including cannabis.”

“New Zealand should investigate and learn from international developments including cannabis law reforms in Colorado, Washington, Uruguay, and the process to review the UN drug control treaties,” added NORML secretary Phil Saxby, of Wellington. “We should be extremely concerned to have the world’s highest cannabis arrest rate, and the world’s highest teenage cannabis use rate – at a cost of over $300 million per year.”

Mr Fowlie pointed to New Zealand’s track record of significant social reforms. “We led the world with needle exhanges, and the Psychoactive Substances Act is perhaps the best drug law in the world.”

In its submission, NORML said it agreed with Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne’s call for evidence-based approach to regulating drugs: “[T]he Psychoactive Substances Act… could well become the model by which narcotic drugs, currently controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act, are regulated for the future… After all, most experts now concede the so-called “war” on drugs has failed, and new initiatives are required.”

ends

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