Politicians playing silly buggers on drugs?

Ross Bell from NZ Drug Foundation suggests politicians are ‘playing silly buggers’ on rushing through banning law to stop sales of currently legal psychoactive substances.

He also asks why, if substances pose “more than a low risk of harm to individuals using the product”, the Regulatory Authority hasn’t removed them from sale under the current law.

Black market fears over legal high ban

An emergency law banning legal highs will lead to binge-buying, fire sales, a boosted black market and addicts withdrawing without support, warns the New Zealand Drug Foundation.

Foundation boss Ross Bell said the political parties were “playing silly buggers” with the issue because they had all agreed to stagger the implementation of the Psychoactive Substances Act, introduced in July last year, meaning a testing regime had still not been developed.

Cabinet gave the go-ahead for a law change two weeks ago. Dunne will introduce the legislation to Parliament under urgency on May 8. “It had been my intention to hold the announcement to much nearer the time to prevent panic-buying and stockpiling.”

He admitted his decision to bring the announcement forward was a political one, sparked by Labour’s planned announcement.

Labour leader David Cunliffe said the substances had been “ruining too many young lives”.

“I think we’ve all been shocked and saddened by it, and also by reports that young Kiwis have been turning to prostitution to fund the habit that these highly addictive drugs create.”

He said the Government had “fallen asleep at the wheel” over introducing a testing regime.

“Had we known 18 months down the track that no regime would yet be in place, we would have insisted back then that all drugs had to go through the testing process before they were allowed onto the market.”

But Bell said Labour had been spurred on by media coverage of the issue and had “decided to jump on the bandwagon”.

Ross from the Drug Foundation has also been active on Twitter, claiming that any substances shown to be a risk could be removed from sale (banned) under the current law.

NZ Drug Foundation ‏@nzdrug

Why not simply use the power in the existing law and immediately remove those products causing harm?

Simply stated that Authority has that power already and questioned whether law change needed.

…allow the Authority to revoke licenses. This neither requires a law change nor rely on any direction from the minister.

Psychoactive Substances Act 2013 – 40 Revocation of approval:

(1) The Authority may, at any time, by notice in the Gazette, revoke an approval of a psychoactive product granted under section 37 if the Authority considers on reasonable grounds that the product poses more than a low risk of harm to individuals using the product.

(2) If the Authority revokes an approval, the Authority—

(a) must notify the person who applied for approval of the product:

(b) may issue a recall order for the product under section 88.

(‘Authority’ means the Psychoactive Substances Regulatory Authority)

So why the sudden rush to change the law if the current law could remove any substance deemed to be a risk?

Maybe the media and politicians should be asking that instead of playing silly buggers.