Review proposes drug law overhaul

By May 3, 2011 Recent News

NZ Herald May 3, 2011
A wide-ranging review of New Zealand drug laws recommends taking steps toward legalising cannabis for medicinal use, cutting criminal charges against low level drug offenders and introducing new regulations stopping production of party pills.

The Law Commission review released this afternoon proposes a complete overhaul of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 governing prosecution of drug offences in New Zealand. It advocates Government-backed clinical trials testing the medicinal benefits of cannabis “as soon as practicable”.

Police should not prosecute those whose cannabis use is to relieve pain or manage symptoms of debilitating illness until those trials are carried out, it says. “Given the strong belief of those who already use cannabis for medicinal purposes that it is an effective form of pain relief with fewer harmful side effects than other legally available drugs, we think that the proper moral position is to promote clinical trials as soon as practicable. We recommend that the Government consider doing this.”

The review also proposes diverting minor drug offenders through a cautioning system instead of the courts and new laws stopping the production of drugs such as party pills until they are proven safe.
Family First director Bob McCoskrie
“A weak-kneed approach to drug use will simply send all the wrong messages that small amounts of drug use or dealing aren’t that big a deal – the completely wrong message, especially for younger people.

A cautioning scheme will simply be held in contempt by users, and fails to acknowledge the harm done by drug use which is undetected. “The report is correct to call for better treatment facilities for addiction and mental illness, but a zero-tolerance approach to the use of drugs combined with treatment options is a far better solution,”
Ban new drugs unless proven safe – Law Commission
3 News May 3 2011
“Weak-kneed” approach criticized – Family First has strongly criticised the Law Commission’s softening of drug punishment.—Law-Commission/tabid/419/articleID/209542/Default.aspx
Proposed drug law changes ‘dopey’ – Family First
NZPA / May 3 2011
Proposed major changes to New Zealand’s drug laws are “dangerous and dopey”, lobby group Family First says.
Drug law overhaul welcomed
Newstalk ZB 4 May 2011
However Family First is rejecting recommendations in the report suggesting softer punishments for drug offenders. Family First Director Bob McCoskrie says marijuana is known to be a gateway drug to harder drugs.

He says the report’s recommendations fail to acknowledge the harm drug use causes.
Police against ‘softer’ drugs approach
TVNZ 4 May 2011
Police will not support moves to introduce a more lenient approach for people caught with drugs for their personal use. ….Family charity, Family First, is also opposed to the idea.

Director Bob McCoskrie said marijuana is known to be a gateway drug to harder drugs and the report’s recommendations fail to acknowledge the harm drug use causes.

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