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Attempt to stymie action on drugs fails

Attempt to stymie action on drugs fails

It is good news that an attempt by Opposition parties yesterday to stymie the government's efforts to protect young people from substances of abuse has failed, says Associate Health Minister and Progressive leader Jim Anderton.

"I wrote to parties represented on Parliament's Business Committee outlining my wish to introduce an amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill No. 3 in order to provide for a new schedule to be established to help us regulate the sale of legal substances which are subject to abuse, but which do not warrant regulation under the current Class A, B or C drug classifications.

"Frankly, I was staggered to hear late last night that this move was not able to proceed because there wasn't unanimous support from all Parliamentary parties.

"This morning it looked as if there would be an unnecessarily long delay to the process, but I am delighted that the party which yesterday objected to progress has this afternoon been shamed into coming to its senses," Jim Anderton said.

"The amendment, contained in a Supplementary Order Paper, will now indeed proceed to the Select Committee as planned," the Progressive leader said.

The purpose of the new schedule is to provide for the possibility of some regulation to protect young New Zealanders in particular against the sale of legal substances which are subject to abuse.

The new schedule allows restrictions to be placed on such matters as legal age of purchase, retail outlets, supply, marketing and labelling in relation to substances in the new schedule.

Examples of such substances are the "legal high" benzylpiperazine (BZP) and a variety of solvents which have come to prominence again recently over the deaths of a number of young New Zealanders.

It must be stressed that the SOP introduces an empty schedule which remains empty until substances are subsequently assessed by the Expert Advisory committee on Drugs based on criteria set out in the SOP,recommended by that committee for inclusion in the schedule and then scheduled by an Order in Council which would identify the suite of controls for the particular substance.

That Order in Council then goes to the Health Select Committee for scrutiny as well as the House for debate.

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