‘Model drug law’ seeks feedback

The NZ Drug Foundation has put out Whakawātea te Huarahi – A Model Drug Law to 2020 and Beyond, and they are seeking feedback.

Our thinking is based on evidence and research from New Zealand and around the world about the best way to reduce the harms caused by both drugs and our current drug law.

‘Whakawātea’ means to clear, free up, cleanse or purify spiritually, while ‘huarahi’ is a pathway, road or track. The title of our model drug law is intended to signify a fresh start for the debate on drug policy and a sense of movement towards a better future.

The key to moving towards an Aotearoa free from drug harm is to start treating drug use as a health issue rather than a criminal issue. Our model drug law proposes:

  • Removing criminal penalties for the possession, use and social supply of all drugs
  • Developing a strictly regulated cannabis market
  • Putting more resources into prevention, education and treatment.

The document is intended to be a conversation starter. We’d love to know what you think.

Download: Whakawatea te Huarahi – A Model Drug Law to 2020 and Beyond (July2017)( PDF 3.2mb )

Feedback:

There are many possible paths to reforming New Zealand’s outdated drug law. The ideas we’ve presented are based on solid evidence and public health principles. 

To ensure Whakawātea te Huarahia – A Model Drug Law to 2020 and beyond is as as good as it can be, please tell us what you think. We welcome all constructive feedback.

These are the sorts of questions we’d like to hear from you about.

  • Are our proposals workable?
  • What parts would you change and why?

As well as commenting below, we will be bringing as many voices together as possible this year to develop consensus around a workable model. We’ll be holding community hui and talking to iwi, politicians, service providers, people who use drugs and many others. Watch this space.

Tell us what you think

3 Comments

  1. patupaiarehe

     /  July 5, 2017

    Can’t argue with any of it. I had to laugh at the part about personal cannabis plots being out of view of the street. Surely logic would dictate that one did this anyway, if one wanted to enjoy the ‘fruit’ of their efforts, rather than their neighbours… 😉

  2. Kevin

     /  July 6, 2017

    My feedback:

    Thank you for this opportunity to give feedback.

    Justice not Health Issue

    In my opinion drug law reform is not a health issue, it’s a justice issue.

    This is because as you say most drug users are responsible users. This means that unless only irresponsible users are being targeted, responsible users are being arrested, charged, fined and given criminal convictions. These drug convictions affect their chances of meaningful employment, restrict where they can travel and cause other disadvantages to their lives which is way over and above the “crime” they have committed. This is the case even if no custodial sentence has been entered. This is grossly unjust. The law should punish the irresponsible and leave the responsible alone.

    Decriminalisation

    As you know depending on the particular model under decriminalisation responsible users will not be subject to the criminal justice system. In some models responsible users are left completely alone while in others they are given a warning or fine and it’s only when someone is given too many warnings that the State will intervene. Under decriminalisation irresponsible users are still punished but responsible users are left alone.

    Also the evidence clearly shows that decriminalisation has no affect on the rate of drug use. However decriminalisation does not make drugs any safer and it does not keep drug money from falling into the hands of criminals.

    Legalisation

    Under legalisation drug use will increase. For example in some places in the States cannabis use has more than doubled after legalisation. However legalisation makes drugs safer, much safer. In the US under prohibition people died as a result of drinking “bad hooch”. So in this regard once recreational drugs are decriminalised and until they are legalised and regulated, then it is a health issue.

    MDMA and LSD – why they should be legalised and regulated as a matter of urgency

    Currently the recreational drug that most people think of when they think drug law reform is cannabis. Cannabis is by far the most popular illegal recreational drug. But the third most popular drug is MDMA which, as the price goes down, is becoming more popular. It was even featured on the New Zealand TV drama “Shortland Street”!

    The problem with MDMA is that users don’t know if what they are buying is really MDMA or how potent it actually is.

    Scenario one: Rachel, who uses MDMA every few months at “raves”, purchases what she thinks is 60mg of MDMA from someone she has never purchased it from before. In actually fact what she is purchasing is 60mg of PMA which is 10 times stronger than MDMA. So instead of taking 60mg of MDMA she takes the equivalent of 600mg. As a result she overheats, suffers a stroke and never recovers and deemed another MDMA “statistic”.

    Scenario two: Paul is a first time MDMA user. He purchases what he thinks is a 50mg tablet, a low dose amount, as he has heard about the negative side effects of MDMA such as anxiety etc, and wants to minimised those effects as much as possible but while still having a positive experience. What he gets unknown to him is 250mg, a very high amount, and a amount where positive effects are very unlikely and negative effects are highly likely. As a result he freaks out and kills himself. Another MDMA “statistic”.

    Under legalisation both of these scenarios would have been very unlikely to have happened.

    With LSD users don’t know if what they are buying is real LSD or synthetic. As you will know real LSD can’t kill you but synthetic LSD can. Also because LSD is illegal there is no way of telling how much LSD a tab contain.

    People have died from taking synthetic LSD thinking it was real acid. People have also died from taking bunk MDMA. While in New Zealand there hasn’t been that many deaths I believe it’s only a matter of time.

    My proposal

    I propose that the Psychoactive Substances Act be amended to include drugs currently covered by the Misuse of Drugs Act and that limited animal testing is allowed. This will allow manufacturers to start manufacturing and selling safer versions of currently illegal under the Misuse of Drugs Act. For example in the scenario above Rachel would be able to purchase say a hypothetical product called “Rave” from an adult shop containing 60mg of MDMA, and will always know that what she is buying. People seeking cannabis for therapeutic use will be able to buy branded cannabis with the amount of THC and CBD clearly stated on the package and choose brands low in THC but high in CBD.

    As you know the Psychoactive Substances Act already provides a good framework for regulation.

    What I disagree with

    I believe that the law be changed to allow online purchases but kept within New Zealand. I don’t believe that a single State-run website is a good idea as it is unnecessary and means too much State interference.

    People should be allowed to grow cannabis on a commercial scale. Putting growing restrictions on growers won’t work as growers will always find ways around it by for example forming cooperatives. Secondly large commercial enterprises will be able to put much more money into research and developing a better and safer product.

    Again, thank you for your time and opportunity to give feedback.

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