Govt changes its tune on drug war

By March 31, 2016 Recent News

NewsTalk ZB 30 March 2016
The government is agreeing with a major study which found a punitive approach to drug offending is doing more harm than good.

The joint John Hopkins University-British Medical Journal study noted the ‘War on Drugs’ has had “no measurable impact on supply or use”, and in fact countries which had liberalised their non-violence related drug laws like Portugal and the Czech Republic saw a rise in “public health benefits, cost savings, lower incarceration [rates] and no significant increase in problematic drug use”.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said the government is preparing to take more of a health focus on drugs and balancing that against their classification.

Dunne said it’ll happen over the next two years and with the new focus, penalties will be looked at, as will handling those caught with small amounts of cannabis for their own personal use.

“The excessively legalistic punitive approach has failed,” he said. “We need to treat these issues as health issues.”

“I’ve never used the term ‘the War on Drugs’, so I’m delighted to see that it’s been consigned to the scrap heap, because I think it was unduly provocative and unnecessary.”

However, Dunne said it won’t mean the legalisation of cannabis.

“You have to get 61 votes in Parliament to pass such a move. Last time I checked with political parties, the total score of parties supporting was zero.”

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said marijuana won’t be made legal any time soon.

“We’ve got too many drugs in society. I mean cannabis is very carcinogenic. I don’t think it would be a good idea to have more people smoking more cannabis”.

Coleman said he’s not ruling out allowing medical cannabis.

“There’s a big difference between loose leaf cannabis and cannabis being available as an extract in a medicine where you can run a proper clinical trial”.

Former drug squad detective Keith Price, who’s now a Napier City Councillor told Larry Williams the current law is sufficient to deal with the issue.

He believes police have already softened their approach, and are using discretion a lot more often.

“You can’t get away from the point that it causes crime, abnormal behaviour, anti social and under motivated people”.

A number of states in the US, including Oregon, Colorado, and Washington, have decriminalised marijuana possession and ownership in recent years, creating a regulated, taxable market.

Govt won’t decriminalise cannabis
NewsHub 30 March 2016
The Government is considering a softer approach to low-level drug offences, but says it’s not considering decriminalising cannabis.

The shift in policy comes as a study is released showing the war on drugs has done more harm than good.

It’s been almost 45 years since former US president Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs, and now it’s been declared a failure.

A new study by the John Hopkins University in the US concluded the international War on Drugs approach to drug offending hasn’t worked, and could even have made things worse.

“I agree entirely,” says Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne. “It has failed, and we’ve been saying that from New Zealand’s perspective for some time now.”