A new entry has been added to News Coverage Videos About Drugs
TV3 - NZ
11 Feb 2010
By Charlotte Tonkin
The Law Commission is angling for the most radical shake up of drug laws in 35 years.
Among the suggestions in a discussion document released today, is a call for more flexibility for drug users and dealers who have small amounts for personal use.
But the Government has slammed the report, saying it does not intend to implement a single suggestion.
The Commission says current legislation around drug use is out-dated and in desperate need of an overhaul.
“We’re simply saying that, as well as criminalisation and law enforcement, we need to recognise the need for rehabilitation and education,” says Deputy Law Commissioner Warren Young.
The Commission has suggested implementing a warning scheme, where users are warned up to three times before they have to be assessed for drug treatment.
If that fails prosecution is an option, or police could issue a fine and make users attend drug education classes – rather than going through the courts.
If prosecution goes ahead, the Commission wants police diversion to be used more broadly, or for those offenders to avoid jail.
But the Government is emphatic none of that will happen while it is in power.
“The Prime Minister has made a war against P and drugs a key part of his leadership,” says Justice Minister Simon Power.
“As long as I’m Justice Minister we will not be relaxing drug laws.”
Anti-methamphetamine campaigner, Mike Sabin, says any relaxation of drug laws would be absurd.
“Flowing through this mentality of harm minimisation, and giving them a ticket or sending them off for some education – unless there is some meaningful carrot and stick approach, it is simply tantamount to just saying ‘well, go for it and we’ll see what happens’,” he says.
But the Commission says the calls are not too soft.
“This is not a series of options that are about liberating the approach to drugs, it’s simply about ensuring we have an appropriate mix of strategies that is effective in reducing drug harm,” says Mr Young.
The report also pushes for the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, the need for more drug treatment facilities, and stricter controls over party pills and other new drugs.
The Law Commission is open to submissions on its proposals until the end of April, and hopes to provide its final recommendations to the Government by early August.
Mr Power says he is interested in submissions about further drug education, but his position on relaxing laws remains firm.
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