Media Release 24 September 2018
Family First is shocked and dismayed that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is not willing to join other countries in developing national action plans to reduce the demand for illicit drugs, cut off supply at their borders and strengthen international cooperation.
“The Prime Minister says she wants the issue to be a ‘health issue’. But reducing the demand is a vital step because of the many health harms of drugs,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
The New Zealand Drug Harm Index 2016 estimates the social cost of drug-related harms and intervention costs in 2014/15 as NZ$1.8 billion. This covers the cost of personal harm and community harm, and the need for interventions by agencies to address the associated harms including health, education and law enforcement. Overall, the social cost of drug use is estimated at NZ$33,800 per year per dependent user and NZ$2,300 per year per casual user.
“If Jacinda Ardern is serious about drugs being a health issue, then a global attempt to reduce the demand is an obvious first step. It is reported that 124 countries have already signed up to support the Global Call to Action, and the agreement has an important focus on ‘newly emerging synthetic drugs’ – a major area of concern for New Zealanders.”
The Global Call to Action also says that countries will commit to address and counter the world drug problem “through a comprehensive, scientific evidence-based approach, and we note the links between drug trafficking, corruption, and other forms of organised crime.”
The action plan calls for a four-pronged strategy:
(1) reduce demand for illicit drugs through education, awareness, and prevention of abuse;
(2) expand treatment efforts to save lives and promote recovery;
(3) strengthen international cooperation across judicial, law enforcement, and health sectors; and
(4) cut off the supply of illicit drugs by stopping their production, whether through cultivation or manufacture, and flow across borders.
“Jacinda Ardern needs to explain why New Zealand won’t be a signatory to this international action plan. Why won’t the government do all it can in cooperation with other countries to reduce drug harm and abuse?”
“Kiwi families should be concerned about a half-hearted weak-kneed approach to a major social problem in New Zealand.”