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  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Power stubs out drug proposals

    Cannabis would be allowed for medicinal use and low-level pot-smokers sent to rehab instead of prison under proposals revealed this afternoon by the Law Commission.

    The Law Commission Issues Paper on Controlling and Regulating Drugs also calls for a "major overhaul" of the law governing new drugs like BZP party pills.

    Law Commission President Sir Geoffrey Palmer today said there was "scope for a range of different approaches" to drug laws in New Zealand.

    "There may be a case for taking more flexible approaches to offences involving possession of small quantities of drugs for personal use," Sir Geoffrey said.

    The report says there is "no reason why cannabis should not be able to be used for medicinal purposes in limited circumstances".

    Under a proposed scheme, people suffering from chronic or debilitating illnesses would be able to use cannabis under medical supervision, particularly where conventional treatment options had proven ineffective.

    Cannabis cultivators would be licensed to provide medicinal marijuana in the same way as other legitimate dealers in controlled drugs, the report said.

    Justice Minister Simon Power today said he would be interested in submissions on the report but he would not allow medicinal use of cannabis.

    "There is not a single solitary chance that as long as I'm the Minister of Justice that we'll be relaxing drug laws in New Zealand," Mr Power said.

    Mr Power's comments were at odds with the report, which suggested there should be less emphasis on conviction and punishment for low level drug users and more on treatment.

    "Simply punishing a drug user, without taking steps to address their drug use, is a wasted opportunity," the report said.

    It suggested three options where personal use of marijuana was detected. The options were: a three strikes caution regime; on the spot infringement notices; or legislation allowing police to choose from a range of options for punishment.

    The regulation of new drugs - like party pills - was recommended for change. The Commission said there should be a new regime where any new psychoactive substance would not be available without prior approval.

    The report said that the proposals were likely to raise concern they would lead to an increase in drug use.

    "However, most studies in this area have concluded that changes in use levels are independent of the regulatory approach in place - that is, the regulatory approach itself neither increases or decreases drug use," the report said

    The Dominion Post
    Feb 11 2010



  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Overhaul of drug laws recommended

    The Law Commission wants to see our drug laws focusing on rehabilitation, not imprisonment.

    It is one of several suggestions featured in a think-piece just released for public submissions. The commission recommends a more flexible approach for those caught with small quantities of drugs for personal use.

    Law Commission deputy president Warren Young says possible changes could include a three strike warning system and court ordered rehab stints.

    "Our emphasis at the moment on conviction and punishment as first and very often the only response really isn't actually getting the results we need."

    Dr Young says the justice system has a key role to play in identifying those with drug problems.

    The Law Commission also suggests people suffering from chronic or debilitating illnesses should be able to get marijuana prescribed to them by their doctor. It says provided the potential for diversion and misuse is controlled, it can see no reason not to relax the laws.

    Dr Young says it is a controversial issue which needs to be seriously looked at.

    "There is quite a lot of evidence now that cannabis is sometimes effective for some people, particularly with terminal illnesses, as a form of pain relief."

    Dr Young says another suggestion is a change when it comes to new drugs, where would-be importers should have to seek approval before bringing the drugs into the country.

    "So that we actually examine whether or not something should be freely available and if there is a risk of harm, what other regulatory controls ought to be there."

    Dr Young says such an approach would have made the now illegal BZP-filled party pills far easier to manager.

    The Law Commission is keen to hear what the public thinks about the proposals. Submissions close at the end of April, with the commission due to deliver its final report in July.

    Justice Minister Simon Power says he is interested in looking the Law Commission's proposals on rehabilitation but is adamant existing laws won't be relaxed. He says the Prime Minister has made the war against P, and other drugs, an important part of his leadership and as long as he is Minister of Justice he will not relax drug laws.

    11/02/2010 17:28:02
  2. PCG IV
    First, John Key appoints a science adviser (Prof Peter Gluckman), and then gives him the task of seeing if pseudoephedrine could be eliminated from the manufacture of cold tablets - not advice on how it can be more effectively controlled, but if it can be eliminated. Thanks for taking away the only cold medicine that actually enables me to get through a day at work with a head cold Johnny - The "P" epidemic is a crock of shit - I am yet to actually meet anyone on it, or see for myself a negative result of it, other than the hysterical propaganda in the media.
    Now, Justice Minister Powell has come out on the day of the most comprehensive analysis of the Misuse of Drugs Act and said that, no matter what the public think, there will be no change to the currently flawed drug laws in NZ. I wonder he he has actually taken the time to read more than the first few pages before working out which of his buddies in the private prison sector he should award contracts for the increased incarceration quota that has been formulated. Hell, if a reasonable attitude is taken on drugs then hsi mate Rodney Hide will nail him to the wall for not throwign more people in jail.
    If he never had any intention of listening to what anyone was going to say then he could have saved his employers - the New Zealand taxpayer - a significant amount of money, as well as not wasting the time of the Law Commisioners by simply cancelling the review on the day that he was appointed Minister of Justice. Notwithstanding that, any members living the the land of the long white cloud (of smoke) need to download, dissect, and make a submission on the Law Commision's review. Back these up with letters to the editor of any publication that comments on this (although the generally right-wing NZ media will probably ignore anything that does not support the failed drug war), as well as a visit to your MP, followed by a letter to said MP, and participating in radio talk-back programs. If there is enough public pressure from well-reasoned arguments then perhaps even Powell will need to change his stance.
    Enough of a rant - I need to keep reading the review . . . . .
  3. chillinwill
    Drug Law Proposals Set To Be Rejected

    A Law Commission report calling for possible decriminalisation of some drug use and allowing cannabis for medicinal use is set to be rejected by the Government.

    The commission said it agreed with vigorous law enforcement on commercial drug dealers, but that there should be less emphasis on punishment of personal possession and use, and more emphasis on delivering effective treatment to addicts.

    However, Justice Minister Simon Power says there is no prospect drug laws will be relaxed.

    The commission report says there is no doubt that alcohol and illegal drugs both cause harm to the community, but "while the harms and costs associated with alcohol are typically understated and misunderstood, those associated with illegal drugs are often generalised and overblown".

    It said the focus of drug laws should be on preventing the harm to others from drug use, not on preventing self-harm or reflecting moral values.

    "The ( Misuse Of Drugs ) Act seems poorly aligned with the policy platform of harm minimisation," it said.

    "Its focus is on controlling the supply of drugs by eliminating their illegal importation, production and supply.

    "The use of drugs, even by those who are dependent on them, is largely treated as a matter solely of criminal policy rather than health policy. It should, however, be the concern of both."

    The commission said evidence suggested that drug regulations neither increased nor decreased drug use, and that for personal use the law would best focus on dealing with the harm the drug use caused.

    "We think that the criminal justice system has a key role to play in identifying individuals whose drug use is causing harm and diverting them into drug education, assessment and treatment.

    "Simply punishing a drug user, without taking steps to address their drug use, is a wasted opportunity."

    The commission suggested three options when police found personal drug use:

    . Police could issue up to three caution notices, with someone receiving a third caution assessed with a view to receiving treatment. A prosecution would follow any further uses.

    . Police issuing infringement notices requiring a fixed monetary penalty for less serious drugs.

    . A menu of options ranging from cautions or infringements to referral to drug assessment to prosecution.

    When a prosecution was commenced, options included:

    . Greater use of the police adult diversion scheme;

    . Less severe penalties, possibly extending the presumption against imprisonment for use of Class C drugs to all personal use offences;

    - - Court-based diversion into assessment and treatment.

    The commission also questioned whether possession of utensils for the purpose of using drugs should be a criminal offence.

    It also said cannabis should be allowed for medicinal purposes, provided the potential for misuse could be controlled.

    It said cultivators of cannabis should be licensed, which would minimise the risk the drug would be diverted into illegal activity.

    To help addicts, the commission suggested there was place for a limited compulsory civil detention and treatment regime provided it had appropriate safeguards.

    Mr Power said that while he was prepared to listen to submissions, "there's not a single, solitary chance that as long as I'm the Minister of Justice, we'll be relaxing drug laws in New Zealand".

    "The Prime Minister has made the war against P and drugs a key part of his leadership and as long as I'm the Minister of Justice, we will not be relaxing drug laws."

    February 11, 2010
    New Zealand Herald
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