NZ First MP claims Psychoactive Substances Act has failed

Asenati Lole-Taylor (NZ First list MP) has called on ministers to resign because they are “responsible for the weak and ineffective Psychoactive Substances Act”.

Pacific Guardians report STEP DOWN: National & United Future MPs for failed ‘Legal High’ law

Heads should roll as a result of the National government’s irresponsible handling of legal high drugs according to NZ First MP Le’au Asenati Lole-Taylor.

“The two ministers, Todd McClay and Peter Dunne, responsible for the weak and ineffective Psychoactive Substances Act should do the right thing and resign from parliament,” she told Pacific Guardians in an exclusive interview. “They are one of the reasons why New Zealanders from Whangarei to Invercargill are marching today [Saturday, 5 April] because those two had the chance to ban these drugs in 2013 but they didn’t.”

She made the comment while walking amongst hundreds of people last Saturday calling for a blanket ban on legal highs.

“The law that was passed in 2013 has failed New Zealand miserably. Proof of that are these marches showcasing the grave concerns of the New Zealand public that the law and parliamentarians are failing them and it must be addressed urgently.”

Failure of the law, she points out lies squarely on the shoulders of the National government and the two ministers responsible.

Lole-Taylor and all her NZ First colleagues voted for the bill last year, which passed 119 votes to 1.

“They failed because they had the opportunity since 2011 to make a law that will control or ban the drugs – but because of they subscribe to the cavalier, hand-off-the-wheel attitude this government takes to governing New Zealand, they have failed the people of this country once again.”

Lole-Taylor and all her NZ First colleagues voted for the bill last year, which passed 119 votes to 1.

She repeated her call for Mr McClay and Mr Dunne to step down.

“The two men must be held accountable for their lack of action in this case. Families have lost loved ones, a growing number of young people’s lives are wrecked by addiction, their jobs as well as businesses are suffering, all those things could have been avoided if Peter Dunne and Todd McClay as law makers did their job.”

She said their performances “are well below par of what’s expected from members of this country’s executive. They should stand down and remove themselves from running in the September election.”

But before that time, “they should pay a visit to every individual family that has suffered a tragedy from legal highs, and then make a national apology to all New Zealanders for having let them down miserably,” she said.

“Their performance in this debacle whether it is through lack of courage to push through what is right against opposition from their caucus; or perhaps, I suspect, they just don’t have what it takes.”

Lole-Taylor and all her NZ First colleagues voted for the bill last year, which passed 119 votes to 1.

In the meantime Peter Dunne blogged about the Act yesterday in Dunne Speaks:

A year ago the country was up in arms about the sale of synthetic cannabis in corner stores, dairies, groceries and convenience stores around the country. There were no restrictions on who could purchase these substances, and there was a cumbersome procedure in place which allowed me as Associate Minister of Health to temporarily ban products shown to be harmful. Since 2011, I had banned just over 50 different products under that regime.

But it was clearly not enough. Every time a product was banned, the chemical combinations were manipulated and a new product emerged, often within days of the first ban being applied. It was a never ending game of catch-up which no-one found satisfactory. It was time to turn the situation on its head to ensure that only those products proven to be low risk through a testing process equivalent to that for registering new medicines, could be sold, and even then in restricted circumstances. And so, the Psychoactive Substances Act was conceived.

Since its passage in July last year its impact has been dramatic. The number of outlets selling these drugs has been reduced from around 4,000 to just over 150; the number of products being sold has fallen from about 300 to 41 and is likely to continue falling; and, sales have been restricted to persons aged 18 and over, with no advertising or promotion permitted. The Police and hospital emergency rooms confirm the availability of these products and the number of cases of people presenting with problems associated with their use have fallen sharply. Yet still there are people up in arms.

How can this be? After all, the market has shrunk; the number of products is down over two-thirds and retail outlets numbers have fallen over 95%. The present situation is far more tightly controlled than ever before, even at the time we were banning psychoactive substances. And I have already foreshadowed more regulations are coming in the next couple of months.

So he claims that the Act is working as intended, to an extent. He  highlights what he thinks is holding the Act back.

Sadly, one of the major reasons has been the inexplicable tardiness of local authorities in implementing their local plans to regulate the sale of psychoactive substances. And some Mayors have shown an ignorance of the issues that borders on breathtaking stupidity.

The facts are these: as the Act was being developed various local authorities and Mayors pleaded with the government to give them local powers, similar to those they already have to regulate the sale of alcohol in their areas, to control the sale of psychoactive substances. Parliament listened to their pleas, and by a vote of 119 to 1 gave them the powers they were seeking.

But – and here is the rub – despite the grandstanding and tub-thumping of the Mayors (just before last year’s local elections significantly) nine months later only 5 of 71 Councils have implemented the local plans the Mayors said they needed so desperately. That delay is unacceptable. It is time for them to stop bleating, and start using the tools they implored Parliament to give them.

Drug use and abuse is a major problem but there are no simple solutions. Blanket bans don’t work, as ongoing problems with other drugs proves. Per capita New Zealand is one of the highest users of cannabis in the world.

Attacking ministers who are trying to take practical steps to address legal high issues is not going to achieve anything except perhaps pander to uninformed voters.

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2 Comments

  1. Dave stonyer

     /  11th April 2014

    A previously invisible unelected MP has woken from a long sleep [Asenati Lole-Taylor (NZ First list MP) . Has she not taken note of the effect of the Act (cutting retailers from 4000 to 150). The Act gave local bodies the means – she should be blaming the Auckland City Council (and all but 5 other councils in NZ) for their failure to act. Blaming her fellow MPs is pointing in the wrong direction.

    Reply
  2. graham

     /  11th April 2014

    Maybe this is something that be run through Politicheck 🙂

    Reply

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