‘New’ Drugs policy

I read on another blog (Your NZ), the statements made by the current NZ Govt. minister, on the launch of : the ‘NEW National Drug Policy’
I don’t want to just copy & paste it.. BUT here are some ‘highlights’ (plus my opinions *) :

1) ‘This policy reflects a cross-government commitment, and I would therefore like to acknowledge my Ministerial colleagues whose portfolios will also contribute to achieving its vision. This includes the Ministers of Health, Justice, Education, Social Development, Police, Corrections and Customs.

* Its interesting the order they put these Depts. in that the most effort on Drug control.. appears to be performed by the last three

2) ‘Compassion. Innovation. Proportion. Three words that I consider to be of the utmost importance when developing drug policy, and three words that are reflected in the contents of this new Policy.’

* Just buzz-words.. they have not mentioned the reality : Prohibition & Zero-tolerance

3) ‘Alcohol and other drug issues are above all health issues, and this Policy recognises that. Alcohol and other drugs have the potential to cause significant harm when misused. About 12% of New Zealanders will develop a substance use disorder at some point in their lives.’

* BUT the two drugs that cause most of the HARM in Aotearoa/NZ are LEGAL.. again rarely mentioned

4) ‘The psychoactive substances regime was introduced because existing legislation could not keep up with the array of new substances. Mechanisms are now in place for substances proven as low risk to be legitimately sold, and all others have been removed from retail sale.’ ‘New Zealand was recognised around the world for this bold and innovative piece of law.’

* This so-called ‘innovation’ covers only SYNTHETIC Drugs & excludes all those currently ILLEGAL under the OUTDATED Misuse of Drugs Act 1975

5) ‘But unlike the previous Policy, it focuses on five new Priority Areas in order to guide action.

These are:

1. creating a people-centred intervention system
2. shifting thinking and behaviour
3. getting the legal balance right
4. disrupting organised crime
5. improving information flow.’

* BUT nothing has really changed.. Prohibition & the Status Quo still ‘rule the day’

6) ‘Does it allow Police to make appropriate decisions to stop drug harm ?’

* WHY are the Police charged with these decisions ? It is claimed that ‘Drugs’ should be a HEALTH CARE issue, not just a LAW ENFORCEMENT one !

7) ‘They will also commence work to examine whether the laws and enforcement around drug possession and utensil possession are still reasonable compared to the severity of these offences.’

* BUT it has already been announced (many times by this Govt.) “NO RELAXING OF DRUG LAWS in NZ”

8) ‘The review did not recommend any changes to the Misuse of Drugs Act itself.’

* The Law Comm. review report of 2011, DID recommend many changes.. including decriminalisation of personal use (cannabis) & a focus on Health Care NOT Criminal Justice approaches

9) ‘But it has identified a need to review of the Misuse of Drugs regulations in order to ensure that they are fit for purpose for current medical and pharmacy practice.’ ‘We will also re-examine the prescribing process for Sativex, New Zealand’s only approved medicinal cannabis product. When we have made progress in all of these areas, I believe that we will be in a better place to consider what a new Misuse of Drugs Act might look like.’

* In many ‘western’/OECD countries, NATURAL CANNABIS can be prescribed by Registered Medical Doctors. BUT here in Aotearoa/NZ they only allow Pharmaceutical extract (Sativex) that is not always ‘fit for purpose’.. as it contains both THC & CBD. eg Young children with Epilepsy, should only receive a CBD drug.

*** To my mind the Minister is just ‘tip-toeing’ lightly around the edges of the legislation. He has still effectively IGNORED many recommendations made by the NZ Law Comm., the NZ Drug Foundation & other Experts in the field. He also ignores the developments, occurring overseas.. BEST Practice; (Law reforms; Regulation, Decrim. etc.)
This so-called ‘NEW’ policy, is (to my mind) just an effort to be seen to be doing ‘something’ BUT actually he is just making the most minimal amount & really not changing anything. ALL TALK, BUT NO BLOODY ACTION !!! 😦

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