Maintaining Illegality Of Drugs Vital For Public Health

Media Release 13 December 2018
Family First NZ says that the Government’s announcement of taking a tough line on synthetic cannabis is the right move, but maintaining the illegality of drugs is also important because we should continue fighting drugs and the devastation its use causes on both the users, their families, and society in general.

“The changes proposed today are already being used by the Police. They say: “Officers apply discretion on a daily basis in dealing with a range of matters, including the possession and use of drugs. Applying this discretion increasingly includes the use of alternative resolution options including pre-charge warnings, Te Pae Oranga, and referrals to health and other support services. Our focus continues to be on targeting the organised criminal networks who supply these harmful drugs to our communities. However, the possession and use of illicit drugs remains illegal and prosecution remains an option in order to prevent harm and keep people safe.” In the 20 years to 2014, the number of arrests for cannabis per 100,000 head of population dropped by 70%.

“This is a smart arrest policy. A sensible drug policy should recognise three pillars – similar to the successful approach towards SmokeFree NZ:

  • supply reduction – target the dealers and suppliers
  • demand reduction – promote a drug-free culture
  • harm reduction – ensure addiction services & support are available for those who genuinely want to quit. The primary purpose is not to keep users using, but reduce and help them exit drug use.

A smart arrest policy can both provide an important societal stamp of disapproval and provide an opportunity to intervene and stop the progression of use. Keeping marijuana illegal through an appropriate application of the laws that cater for ‘youthful indiscretions’ and which focus on supply and dealers is as much a public safety policy as it is a public health policy,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“But at a time when New Zealand’s mental health system is bursting at the seams, we should go no further and legitimise a mind-altering product which will simply add to social harm? It’s patently obvious to most people that legalisation will increase its use, and harm.”

“If we listen to drug advocates internationally, there will be calls for legalisation of not just marijuana but all drugs – cocaine, heroin, P. The Drug Foundation has already admitted that it wants to legalise dope and decriminalise all other drugs! This is a shocking scenario.”

Maintaining its illegality but using a smart arrest policy combined with the coercion of the law is the correct response to drug use.”

“Drug use is a major health issue, and that’s why the role of the law is so important. This is not a ‘war on drugs’ – this is a defence of our brains. People should always come before profits.”
ENDS

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