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Law changes must be worthwhile

Associate Health Spokesperson

8 September 2011
Law changes must be worthwhile

Harm reduction, not the justice system, has to be at the centre of new drug legislation, Labour’s Associate Health spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway says.

His comments follow the release today of the Government’s response to the Law Commission’s report on the Misuse of Drugs Act, and its promise to overhaul the 40-year-old law.

“The Government has accepted some of the recommendations, but has also chosen not to pick up others. The Law Commission has put a huge amount of time into its report. Its findings were based on expert and evidence-based advice.

“This must not become a lost opportunity. Replacing the Act with anything other than a significant new policy that addresses and deals with and harm reduction and prevention would be totally pointless.

“We know the Government has taken synthetic cannabinoids off the market through temporary class drug notices. We know it wants to come down harder on manufacturers of those drugs by reversing the onus of proof of safety.

“Yet the Minister is still being coy about some of the other, more controversial recommendations, including penalties for supply and possession, a review of the classification system, and more treatment opportunities.

“Labour is pushing for a comprehensive review of the classification system using the best contemporary evidence available, and for earlier and better drug education. We will also seek greater opportunities to get people into treatment rather than simply hauling them through the justice system.

“We are looking forward to the prospect of making significant changes in the next term,” Iain Lees-Galloway said.


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