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Weak drug law changes ignore expert advice

Weak drug law changes ignore expert advice

Weak changes to the Misuse of Drugs Act will be easy to get around because the government is too compromised to make the necessary changes, Progressive Wigram MP Jim Anderton says.

Jim Anderton was the former minister in charge of drug policy who sent the issue to the Law Commission because the Misuse of Drugs Act is not coherent and effective in responding to the misuse of psychoactive drugs. (See preface to the Commission report; link below).

As the Commission says, problems include "the adequacy of the legislative framework to deal with new psychoactive substances."

Jim Anderton says Peter Dunne and the National Party had more than three months to get a law change ready after the Law Commission reported back this year.

"The Law Commission advised the Government to reverse the onus of proof so that sellers would have to prove their drugs are safe.

"Because the government hasn't reversed the onus of proof, the new law will be skirted by manufacturers. They will simply withdraw their drugs, slightly change the chemical composition, and put their products back on the market.

"The Government has failed to do what the Law Commission advised them to do. It has had plenty of time."

Jim Anderton is sceptical of the Government's sincerity on this issue.

"Peter Dunne has a bad record of demonizing any attempt to control socially harmful substances He called laws to prevent the sale of tobacco to underage children as ‘fascist’, smoke free bar legislation 'extremism' and said spending money on tobacco control was ‘a scandalous waste of money in pursuit of some health zealots’ beady eyed political correctness.’

"Now the Government is doing less than the bare minimum after stalling for time on psychoactive substances.

"Foot-dragging is not a surprise when the Government sees social harm as an issue of extremist zealotry," Jim Anderton said.


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