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.

 

 

Disgraceful lack of action from David Clark and Labour on drug crisis

The drug abuse crisis continues to hit the headlines,with ongoing and growing problems, more and more deaths, and the Labour-led Government continues to do bugger all if that.

The wellbeing and lives of many people are at risk, this should be getting urgent attention, but the Labour-led government looks as bad as National was in being to gutless to address the problems.

Yesterday from Stuff:  Warning issued over synthetic cannabis use after eight people hospitalised

At least three people have been admitted to intensive care and others treated within 24 hours in Christchurch after using synthetic cannabis.

The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) issued a warning about the illegal drug after a rush of people suffering from potentially severe synthetic cannabis toxicity ended up in Christchurch Hospital.

Emergency medicine specialist Paul Gee said there had been a noticeable increase in people needing emergency help due to the side effects of synthetic cannabis use.

Eight people have been treated in Christchurch over the last 24 hours, with three having to be admitted to the intensive care unit.

Also Synthetic cannabis users gambling with their lives after a ‘bad batch’

Synthetic cannabis users are gambling with their lives, a health official warns following a spate of hospitalisations in Christchurch.

The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) issued a warning on Thursday evening about the illegal drug after a rush of people suffering from potentially severe synthetic cannabis toxicity ended up in Christchurch Hospital.

As a Minister in the National-led Government Peter Dunne copped a lot of flak for dysfunctional drug laws and growing drug abuse problems, especially the growing use of new drugs often inaccurately referred to as synthetic cannabis.

It suited National to allow the blame to fall on Dunne while they did virtually nothing to deal with obvious drug law problems and growing use of dangerous drugs. And there has been many ignorant attacks on Dunne.

On 1 News yesterday Dunne suggested a rethink on how we deal with natural cannabis: Legalising recreational cannabis could stem NZ’s epidemic of ‘zombie drug’ deaths, Peter Dunne says

Synthetic cannabis has killed more than 40 people in New Zealand since June last year, a massive jump from the previous five years, the coroner recently reported.

One way to serve a blow to the market for the so called zombie-drug in New Zealand would be to legalise recreational cannabis, former MP and Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said today on TVNZ1’s Breakfast.

But the suggestion came with a caveat.

“It would certainly remove some of the incentive for people to try some of these substances,” he said. “But…some of these (synthetic drugs) are so potent and so powerful that people may well feel they’ll get a better high from these rather than the real product.

“While on the face of it the answer would be yes (to marijuana legalisation), I don’t think it’s necessarily that simple.”

“I don’t think we ever anticipated we’d get new synthetic drugs that would lead to so much harm,” NZ Drug Foundation Executive Director Ross Bell told 1 NEWS yesterday.

So what is the current Government doing about it? very little as far as I’m aware. Health Minister David Clark seems as reluctant as National was to address the problem, and most of the Labour-led Government seem to be gutless – the exception is Green MP Chloe Swarbrick who is working hard to try to progress long overdue drug law reforms.

The only official press release from David Clark since becoming Minister was this last December: Medicinal cannabis to ease suffering. Labour have been very disappointing in their handling even of medicinal cannabis.

Nothing from Clark mentioning ‘synthetic’. What the hell is he doing apart from nothing?

NZ Herald (31 July 2018): Health Minister David Clark in favour of liberalising drug laws

Health Minister David Clark is personally in favour of more liberal drug laws because prohibition has not worked in the past.

But Clark would not commit to abiding by the result of any referendum on loosening laws around cannabis use, saying he preferred to wait for advice from his colleagues.

“I think it’s highly likely that that’s the course we would take … all I’ve said is I want to wait for advice.

“I haven’t had a conversation with colleagues about how that referendum’s going to be framed and what question we’re going to be asking the public.

“Broadly, I favour at a more personal level, more liberal drug laws because I think in the world when prohibition has been tried, it hasn’t worked.”

We have multiple drug crises, with both synthetics and P (methamphetamine). Natural cannabis is far less dangerous, but it is getting more expensive and harder to obtain because drug pushers make more money out of getting people addicted to P and synthetic drugs. They have no trouble finding more victims to replace those who die.

National’s lack of action on drug abuse and drug laws was extremely disappointing.

Clark and Labour are acting just as poorly. This is disgraceful.

Hikoi highlights ‘P’ problems

This year’s hikoi to Waitangi highlighted ‘P’ problems, which are a major issue in Northland. It’s a good choice for the hikoi, addressing problems that the community can and should do something about.

Northern Advocate: Northland hikoi from Cape Reinga to Waitangi demands end to P scourge

Marchers in an anti-P hikoi from Cape Reinga to Waitangi say they succeeded in raising awareness about the drug’s devastating effect on Northland – and where people can go for help.

More than 500 people took part in the final stage of the hikoi yesterday from the campground next to Te Tii Marae to the Treaty Grounds, where they were given a rousing welcome at Te Whare Runanga (the carved meeting house).

A day earlier about 50 people arrived at Waitangi after a five-day walk from Cape Reinga, with more joining in each time the hikoi passed through towns on the way.

While past hikoi have focused on environmental or land issues, this year’s called on Government and iwi leaders to do more to combat methamphetamine, also known as P.

The hikoi was also unusual in that it had wholehearted backing from the police, and some of the marchers called on the Government to boost police numbers so they were better able to fight the class A drug.

The Government recently announced a significant increase in police numbers.

Hikoi leader Reti Boynton, of Kaitaia, said in parts of Northland it was easier to find P than it was to get cannabis, and addicts had to wait three to six months to get into rehab. By then it was often too late.

The drug made people aggressive and willing to sell anything to get it, he said.

“It turns women into prostitutes, men into thieves, and takes food out of cupboards. And what is the Government doing about it? Nothing.”

I don’t think it’s true that ‘the Government’ is doing nothing about it, but ‘P’ has become a major problem.

And it’s not just up to the Government and the police to deal with social issues, society itself, and communities, need to take some responsibility in speaking up and acting.

Which is what this hikoi has done. Good on them.

Mike Sabin and methamphetamine

MP Mike Sabin is being investigated by the police for assault, and it appears that National are looking at possible replacements for him in his Northland electorate.

Sabin has a history of involvement in drug enforcement and education.

Before becoming an MP in 2011 Sabin was a police officer for ten years (including drugs detective) and then in 2006 founded a business called Methcon that somehow made money out of addressing the P problem. They described themselves as:

New Zealand’s only specialist methamphetamine education provider

Sabin’s website profile goes into more detail.

Mike took leave without pay from the police in 2006 having founded a world-first company,MethCon Group Ltd, the aim of which was to provide employers, government agencies, community organisations and members of the public with better education, policy and strategies to respond to New Zealand’s growing P problem. Mike delivered hundreds of seminars and presentations in businesses, schools and communities from Te Kao in the North to Wellsford in the South, gaining a respected public profile and connectivity with communities and organisations around the North.

Mike quickly rose to national prominence as managing director of Methcon Group with frequent media appearances and commentaries. The business quickly expanded from Northland right across the country with Methcon Group gaining recognition with a number of business awards, while Mike himself was recognised with national leadership awards for his commitment in this area.

While researching solutions to New Zealand’s methamphetamine crisis Mike traveled extensively into the United States and Europe and provided research and recommendations to the previous government and the new National lead government, which have given this issue considerable priority.

Mike’s is now considered one of the country’s foremost authorities on matters related to methamphetamine and drug policy which is also reflected internationally in his roles on several international drug prevention policy organisations, including being one of two representatives for Oceania on the World Federation Against Drugs. Mike also attended and gave an address at the United Nations in Vienna at the 10 year anniversary of global drug policy in 2009.

On Youtube: New Zealand’s first methamphetamine education DVD.

Coincidentally I watched a documentary last night on methamphetamine in Fresno, California. The widespread inter-generational addiction problems are awful. And the prospects for kicking the habit don’t look great.

A comment here yesterday from “Concerned Citizen”:

This Sabin idiot gave us the most ridiculous speech about drug addicts one day. He said it was proven that forcing them into rehab was the only way to get results. Hello!! Anyone who has had anything to do with an addict would know that forcing them to do anything won’t work. They have to want to get better. Ruling people with a big stick hasn’t got you anywhere much now, has it Mike?

In a Radio NZ interview in 2008:

Mike Sabin: There are programmes. The effectiveness of them, and the ability to actually have a mandated programme. So in words what we’re talking about is this notion of you only get off drugs if you want to is actually quite incorrect.

With some of the more powerful drugs if you force them into a corner and you give them a hard option or a really hard option they will take the hard option.

And some of the results we’re seeing in the United States with drug treatment courts. You know forty to sixty percent of people are getting clean within three months. Recidivism rates dropped from sixty percent down as low as five percent.

That may not be his current thinking on cessation methods.

Reported in Australia in June this year:

No known treatment for ice addiction, inquiry told

Australia urgently needs to step up research into treatments for ice addiction, health and drug experts say.

Unlike methadone for opioid users, a substitute for methamphetamines largely does not exist.

The Australian Medical Association has told a Victorian inquiry into the supply and use of ice that urgent research is needed to develop suitable treatment and management options for methamphetamine dependence.

Clinical drug experts have joined the call, saying Australia could be leading the way in looking for more effective long-term treatment for people using crystal methamphetamine.

The head of clinical services at Turning Point Drug and Alcohol Services, Dr Matthew Frei, said pharmaceutical treatments for ice were undeveloped and there were limited options for long term therapy.

And Sabin in Australia about the same time:

Prevention the cure for ice scourge, expert says

PREVENTION has to be the cornerstone of any strategy to arrest Victoria’s ice scourge, an international expert says.

Mike Sabin, a former New Zealand Police detective who has become an internationally recognised expert on methamphetamine, said prevention was often the “poor cousin” in drugs strategies, after treatment and enforcement.

“Don’t ever think you can arrest your way out of this problem,” Mr Sabin said.

Mr Sabin said strategies aimed at tackling health issues like heart disease, skin cancer and obesity focused on prevention and ice use should be treated in a similar way.

“It’s an entirely preventable health problem,” Mr Sabin said.

“The key to tackling this problem and every other drug problem in this state and every other place in the world is prevention.

The generation of tomorrow had to challenge the belief that drug use was a rite of passage into adulthood, he said.

Prevention is obviously best – if it works. Preventing the manufacture of meth, prevention pushers from getting people hooked and preventing addicts from obtaining supplies have all proven to be very difficult.

Working with drug addicts is very difficult. Meth addicts have a reputation for violence. Keeping them off highly drugs like methamphetamine has proven to be difficult.

Meth Help – “These pages will help you to make a change, find out about treatment and all the ways you can get support along the way.”

Whale Oil still in message control mode

NZ Herald reported this morning: Len Brown scandal journalist Stephen Cook on P charges

The journalist who broke the story of the Len Brown and Bevan Chuang sex scandal has appeared in court on methamphetamine charges.

Stephen John Cook, 46, came before Manukau District Court this morning on charges of possessing the class A drug and a glass pipe used to smoke it.

Cook gained publicity last year when he teamed up with WhaleOil blogger Cameron Slater to publish details of the mayor’s high-profile affair.

The alleged offending which brought him before the court today stemmed from an incident in Auckland on Saturday.

Tonight there was a comment on Whale Oil’s Backchat that was presumably related to this. It asked that as Slater was so opposed to drunk driving what he thought of P.

Soon afterwards the comment disappeared.

If the journalist charged was someone like David Fisher it would be likely to feature in at least one prominent scathing post on Whale Oil.

Slater said recently:

I am very happy with where we are placed, and very happy with where we are going.

Big things are going to happen soon, and then you will see why it is that we have headed in this direction.

Going in the direction of suppression of discussion about unfavourable news is not a good lead in to a new media enterprise.