I watched the 1st reading debate of a new bill introduced into NZ parliament last evening.. ‘Substance Addiction (compulsory assessment & treatment) bill. This will replace an act from 1966 (50 years old & well out-of-date) !
The debate talked about a few issues:
1) People who have alcohol & ‘other drug’ addictions that are harmful to themselves & others, need to be put into court ordered addiction treatment (after assessment). This treatment will be for a period of 2 years. They said that it was targeted at only severe cases & NOT an extra tool for enforcement of the current zero-tolerance/prohibition regime.
2) For too long, many of these people have been dealt with by law enforcement & often locked up in prisons.. but they should not be. Often prison makes these people worse, not better. Many are suffering mental illness.
3) At least one MP stated that this bill should be, just the start of further law reforms around drug issues in Aotearoa/NZ (as was recommended by the NZ Law Commission, in recent years).
4) It was also good to hear the words.. ‘respect for Human Rights’.. which are often totally overlooked, in regard to ‘DRUG law enforcement’ in this land !
** I am also hoping that this will be the commencement of further Drug law reforms: specifically the ‘Misuse of Drugs act 1975’ (over 40 years old & also well past its use-by-date)