New Statesman praising NZ approach to legal highs

An article in New Statesman by Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch (the director of Open Society Foundations Global Drug Policy Program) praises and promotes the proposed changes to dealing with legal highs in New Zealand.

New Zealand, legal highs and sensible supply-side policies

The UK government could learn a lot from New Zealand about how to sensibly control the proliferating supply of so-called “legal highs”, according to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform.

While governments in Europe and the United States frantically ban substances to keep up with new synthetic drugs, lawmakers in New Zealand are using reason and a sensible legislative process to “to protect vulnerable consumers, particularly young people.”

Yet far from being another ham-fisted crackdown on drugs, the New Zealand proposal represents the first steps to a regulated market, which would require any new substances to go through a lengthy testing process before they could be approved for legal sale.

Potential manufacturers of new psychoactive substances will have to submit to roughly $180,000 NZD (£95,000 GBP) in application fees plus an additional NZ$1m to NZ$2m (around £526,000 to £1.05m) in costs to test each product they want to sell.

And there are strict penalties for attempts to bypass the law, which could go into effect later this year, including up to eight years in prison.

This is a monumental development for a number of reasons.

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The New Zealand policy aims to halt the legislative incentive to develop more new drugs.

“A useful feature of New Zealand’s planned policy is to assess both the harms arising from a particular substance and the harms arising from controlling it.”

Might we the UK also be better served by begin regulatory processes to understand the drugs that people are taking and developing policies that address their relative risks?

That is precisely what New Zealand has started doing. It’s worth a closer look.

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Source: http://www.newstatesman.com/lifestyle/2013/01/new-zealand-legal-highs-and-sensible-supply-side-policies

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