Clark, Ardern shamefully lame not urgently addressing drug problems

Urgent action is required to address drug problems, like the prevalence of P (methamphetamine) and the growing problems with and deaths from synthetic drugs (not cannabis as some keep describing it as).

Instead the Minister of Health, David Clark, and the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, are shamefully lame.

RNZ:  Synthetic drug compounds may be reclassified as Class A

Two of the most commonly used synthetic drugs could be reclassified as Class A, bringing them in line with heroin and cocaine.

Health Minister David Clark said the aim was to give the police greater powers to stop makers and sellers of the drug.

He said he would be asking his Cabinet colleagues to support reclassification of two compounds known as AMB-Fubinaca and 5F-ABD.

bad batch of synthetic drugs in Christchurch is suspected to be behind one death. The batch has also put 19 people in hospital over the last two weeks.

“Any death as a result of drug use is a tragedy, and my sympathies go to friends and family,” Dr Clark said.

The government was taking the synthetic drug problem seriously and was talking to service providers and drug users to identify areas of need, he said.

Urgent and drastic action is required, like right now, and Clark is talking to people and might take a tweak to Cabinet some time in the future. I don’t have a problem with enabling tougher sentences for pushing some drugs, but that is unlikely to dent the ongoing catastrophe that requires urgency.

A decision on reclassification under the Misuse of Drugs Act would be made in coming weeks.

“It’s important to acknowledge that reclassification is not a silver bullet. We need to treat drug abuse, including synthetic cannabis, as a health issue,” Dr Clark said.

It’s not cannabis. And this is hardly going to make a difference.

Drug laws need a complete overhaul, not just a tweak, says The Drug Foundation.

It said drug suppliers and users needed to be treated differently under the law, as suggested by the Law Commission in 2011.

This would stop addicts being penalised for what should be health issue, Drug Foundation chief executive Ross Bell said.

“Unless the government reforms that law then its good intentions of going after the big guys doesn’t stop police from then also choosing to criminalise people who are using these drugs.”

Funding for drug addiction services also needed to double, he said.

Drug rehabilitation service provider What Ever It Takes Trust general manager Caroline Lampp said a reclassification of two synthetic drugs would help stop supply, but more help for addicts was crucial.

“There a big gap here in Hawke’s Bay and in other places around the before and after support,” she said.

Dr Clark agreed addiction services are underfunded, but said the government was waiting for the final report from the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry before increasing any funding.

Waiting. Waiting! While lives continue to be ruined, and people keep dying.

Last week in New York Ardern notably did not join Donald Trump’s continuation of the failed ‘war on drugs’.

Last night  saw Ardern spout some absolutely vague waffle on the drug problem last night on TV and now I can’t find it, such is it’s lack of importance in the news.

TVNZ has this online: Potent new batch of synthetic drugs turning users violent in Christchurch – ‘Every person is quite unpredictable’

Two more people have died from suspected synthetic drug overdoses in Christchurch in the last fortnight as the city grapples with a dangerous batch of the drugs.

Those on the front line say patients on synthetic cannabis are becoming more aggressive and turning on the people trying to help them.

St John’s Craig Downing told 1 NEWS about one of these violent incidents.

“Last Saturday night we were called to a case that the ambulance staff responded to.

“They attended to a person and whilst in the back of the ambulance that person, without provocation or warning, violently attacked one of my staff,” Mr Downing said.

“I’m extremely worried because we don’t know from one patient to the next what’s in this substance and as such every person is quite unpredictable.”

Others dealing with Christchurch’s less fortunate have also reported the new strain of synthetic cannabis causing issues.

“The latest batches are significantly more powerful than they’ve ever been, in fact up to 400 times the strength of THC which is really significant.

“From an addictive perspective one hit can get someone hooked on it,” Christchurch City Mission’s Matthew Mark says.

A paper is set to go to cabinet in the next few weeks with a plan on how to tackle the issue, including a possible law change.

‘Next few weeks’, ‘possible law change’. Hopeless.

Ardern appears in video of that item alongside Minister of Police Stuart Nash waffling a bit about what they might do.

I think that was the news item I heard Ardern speaking but it seems to have been expunged.

Clark, Ardern and the Government have been shamefully lame in their dealing with urgent drug abuse problems.

Green MP Chloe Swarbrick is putting them to shame (see next post) but is not making much impression on Ardern or her Government.

 

 

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34 Comments

  1. Griff.

     /  October 5, 2018

    All the talk about reforming drug laws and what do they do?
    Wind up the war on drugs another notch.

    Reply
  2. And the only Simon Bridges whine on this was the ‘soft on crime’ line.

    Reply
  3. Blazer

     /  October 5, 2018

    2 threads on the same topic!

    Don’t mainstreet shops sell this stuff?

    Reply
    • I thought that Swarbrick’s efforts deserved a separate post. She seems virtually alone amongst MPs pushing for sensible reform, and not spouting rhetoric while doing bugger all like Labour.

      Reply
      • Strong For Life

         /  October 5, 2018

        I think her ideas are worth looking at. As you say, at least she is looking to something constructive to solve the worsening drug issue. Ardern and cohorts are good at “conversations” but poor at implementing real change.

        Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  October 5, 2018

      No shopkeeper would be stupid enough to sell these illegal drugs,

      We all know that ‘synthetic cannabis’ is a misnomer, but it’s stuck and only a fool would imagine that anyone is trying to link cannabis with this stuff as a killer or blame it for being deadly, That sort of nitpicking tangent doesn’t help.

      Reply
  4. Strong For Life

     /  October 5, 2018

    Clark seems to have disappeared. He was gonna do this, gonna do that at the start of his tenure. He was going to change the world. Since the Greenlane Hospital debacle he has been quiet almost invisible. Another Labour Minister that is all talk and little action.

    Reply
  5. Reply
  6. High Flying Duck

     /  October 5, 2018

    There is no issue with reclassification of synthetic drugs – and it does need to move on from being “synthetic cannabis”, because that is highly misleading as to the effects and side effects these products cause.
    There are far less harmful drugs with higher classifications, so the discrepancy needs to be rectified.
    That said, perhaps a new approach along the lines of what CS is proposing as to what happens to those caught using the drugs would be worth trying.
    Manufacturers can rot in hell for all I care, but the users need help & education, not punishment.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  October 5, 2018

      Agreed.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  October 5, 2018

        It’s a problem; it’s a silly name, but it’s not easy to have something renamed when this isn’t its official name or a brand name.

        In one way it’s not a synthetic anything, as it’s made from real substances. But what could it be renamed as ? Am I right in thinking that there are different versions of it ?

        It could just have initials. TSC (toxic ‘synthetic cannabis’) ? That way it’s still associated with the old name but this wouldn’t be said. Who thinks of what LSD actually stands for ? You just know what it means.

        I do like TSC, if I say so myself as didn’t ought.

        Or TSD (toxic street drugs)

        Reply
    • phantom snowflake

       /  October 5, 2018

      Manufacturers can rot in hell..” As the manufacturers of these drugs are generally factories in China I’m not sure what you have in mind??

      Reply
  7. lurcher1948

     /  October 5, 2018

    As i see it the problem is dying and if NZ waits long enough the persons who use will all pass,it’s Darwin’s law, wait a while and nature allways sorts things out,the weak always get weeded out

    Reply
  8. I actually question Dr. (Reverend) Clark’s real motives.. being from a strong christian.. perhaps ‘Anti Drugs’ background. Is he talking; some of the talk.. but just stalling on walking the walk ?!!

    Maybe he needs to be reminded ‘God created all things in Heaven & Earth’.. inc. Cannabis, Coca & opium. It is man who has demonised them. There is even mention of the use of ‘Kanabosm’ in the bible.. which modern scholars believe was mistranslated in the KJV as ‘calamus’ a marsh reed.. & in fact is was/IS Cannabis. Included in the Holy annointing oil & even used by JC to caste out demons & heal the sick; Medicinal Cannabis use.

    Aotearoa/NZ is sliding further & further behind many OECD countries on this. Its 2018 not 1975.. time to bin the MODA & move on.. :/

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  October 5, 2018

      There is a huge difference between good old-fashioned dope such as we have all smoked in our time and this muck made of who knows what (and other hard drugs)

      I have never heard of anyone dying after smoking a joint.

      Reply
      • tautoko kitty

        BUT many MPs appear to be ignoring the best option; decrim./regulate the natural herbz.. ASAP

        I often hear that the reason many use ‘synthetics’ is because it is now, cheaper & easier to get than natural budz; Cops still doing regular ‘seek & destroy’ missions (with RNZAF helicopters) I saw a ‘pot hotspot’ list; over 50k plants ‘recovered’ in 2018, which is only the figure from the main areas. Which likely means, many more were also pulled up, creating what is being termed a ‘cannabis drought’ (natural).

        Number of deaths in 2018 from synthetics: 45+
        Number of deaths EVER from using natural cannabis: ZERO !

        go figure

        Reply
        • another probable factor.. in the continued WAR on weeds/drugs: It keeps 1000s of Cops, ‘gainfully employed’ busting as many ‘druggies’ as they can find.. 😦

          meanwhile the Govt. talks a load of rhetoric, about ‘reducing harm’ & ‘reducing prison numbers’.. you can still get prison for growing the stuff, personal use & even possession.. if they ‘suspect dealing MAY have occurred’: a woman (Kelly VanG) up north got sentenced to TWO YEARS for growing for herself & friends etc. (no sales proven) a few years ago !!

          Reply
          • btw; on appeal her sentence was reduced (6 months ?) & she was released soon after.. on a good behaviour bond.. she was a mother with young children & has won a award from the local community for being ‘an upstanding community leader.’. (or similar) who just preferred weed over booze.. now branded as ‘a crim’

            Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  October 5, 2018

          Some fools can’t see the difference between ‘decrim’ and legalised….errr… speeding isn’t LEGAL, but it’s dealt with by fining.

          Fine people for a certain amount if they’re caught. Then leave the legalisation issue to lie fallow for a while until people are used to the idea.

          An elderly smoker whom I know says that the cops don’t go out of their way to come after people like him. He ‘lays low and (says) nuffin’ and doesn’t attract attention to himself….

          Reply
          • An elderly smoker whom I know says that the cops don’t go out of their way to come after people like him. He ‘lays low and (says) nuffin’ and doesn’t attract attention to himself….’ sez kitty

            BUT.. thats what we’ve been hearing for over a decade, surely it IS time to catch up with: Canada, Portugal, Holland, several USA & Aust. states, other EU countries, Sth Africa, Israel etc. etc. etc. & change the law ?!

            ‘Defacto decrim’ is NOT law reform.. its just excuses, excuses.. to do F-all & leave the real POWER in the hands of Police & the Gangs.. 😦 😦

            “Its just NOT good enuf kitty” sez I & many others

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  October 5, 2018

              I’d settle for decrim to start with. It’s a step in the right direction and would slide into legalisation painlessly.

              I can’t understand idiots who can’t see the difference between the two….I use the example of speeding which isn’t legal but won’t land you in the Big House if you’re caught doing it.

            • ‘I can’t understand idiots who can’t see the difference between the two…’ sez kitty

              Obviously there is a difference.. BUT many do not actually know what they mean; thats why I & others prefer ‘to regulate’: lay down the rules.. but not ZERO-tolerance, similar to alcohol; R18, no driving under influence, no use in public places etc.

              I dont like the word ‘decrim.’ because it still leaves possession, open to ‘on the spot fines’ & the supply chain is still mostly in the hands of the black-market Gangsters ?!
              >BUT it is a TINY step, beyond the status quo.. I give you that, kitty :/

  9. PartisanZ

     /  October 5, 2018

    Pity there isn’t some mechanisms whereby “shamefully lame” has some actual impact on the politicians …?

    Weekly polling … Like TV ratings? Mass email & social media campaigns (like the Right Brigade are constantly doing about “race-based privilege” and suchlike UTTER BULLSHIT).

    Threats to withdraw from Party membership … Oh, except no-one belongs to Political Parties any more … but love to complain how those Parties don’t represent them …

    Anyhow, I’m off to email a bunch of MPs …

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  October 5, 2018

      Not sure whether you can call MPs a bunch?

      Perhaps you mean a gaggle of MPs?

      gaggle
      ɡaɡ(ə)l
      noun
      1.a flock of geese.
      2.INFORMAL a disorderly group of people.

      Reply
    • Dr Clark is telling ‘porkies’.. he either has another agenda (follow the money) OR he just a ‘gutless wonder’.. recent polls show over 67% support drug reform & yet he it still eff. talking status quo: Arrest, Prosecute & Punish & then… watch more die from Synthetics, because natural herb is getting harder to get 😦

      Reply
  1. Swarbrick putting Ardern, Clark to shame on drug rhetoric and inaction | Your NZ

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