Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Just quietly, this is a big deal

23 Responses

  • Russell Brown,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22807 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    New Zealand First's response:

    New Zealand First welcomes the announcement that two synthetic drug strains linked to recent deaths will be classified as Class A under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975, with additional funding support for community addiction services.

    “New Zealand First has always taken a firm, common sense approach to illicit drug use,” says Spokesperson for Police Darroch Ball.

    “The Class A classification is far more appropriate for synthetic drugs that have taken too many lives already. Introducing the new C1 category provides greater flexibility and responsiveness to bring new drugs into the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.

    “The measures announced today provide police with the right powers to combat dealers and manufacturers. This is targeted policing - giving greater search, surveillance and seizure powers, as well as harsher penalties for offenders,” Mr Ball added.

    Police will also be given discretion in law to not prosecute users for possession and use depending on the seriousness and wider implications of the offence, and where they believe a therapeutic approach would be more beneficial.

    The introduction of the Acute Drug Harm Response Discretionary Fund provides the support needed for communities to deal with addictions, overdoses and deaths. The fund allocates more resources for drug training in communities, as well as increased funding for Ministry of Health drug and alcohol initiatives.

    “Synthetic drugs are a scourge on our communities. As Acting Prime Minister, Winston Peters called for swift government response following a spike the number of deaths caused by synthetic drugs.

    “These measures will help those users who are suffering from addiction problems and mental health issues. We need to put the focus on saving lives and rehabilitation,” says Health Spokesperson Jenny Marcroft.

    “Action against synthetics is vital. These changes will deliver an approach to turn around the harm caused by synthetic drugs,” added Ms Marcroft.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22807 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    And more:

    "This will be huge for Māori," says Selah Hart, Chief Operations Manager of Hāpai Te Hauora. "Our people have suffered disproportionately under an antiquated approach to drug use in Aotearoa which has seen people who use drugs treated as criminals and not as people who have a right to health care and treatment."

    "Much of the opportunity to turn this around will rely on the police and their ability to move their organisation from one which has been guilty of perpetuating institutionalised racism against Māori in the past, to one which is capable of enacting these changes without bias."

    Hart continues "We will look forward to receiving more detail on exactly how these changes will roll out, and will hope to see Māori involvement at the decision-making table in order to ensure equity is achieved. But for now, we throw our support behind this announcement which demonstrates a practical commitment underlying the Government’s kōrero around putting compassion into drug policy."

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22807 posts Report Reply

  • SamC,

    It will be very interesting to see how the debate (in parliament and in the public) goes. It seems like any attempt at sensible drug reform in this country leads to mass hysteria.

    Since Aug 2014 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Neil,

    Reclassification to Class A makes a lot of sense. Ideally some drugs that are currently Class A could be reclassified so that Class A is just for those drugs that are inherently very dangerous.

    As part of the treatment side of things the government should look at setting up secure detox units attached to Emergency Departments to handle people coming off meth and synthetics. That would provide a safe environment for both users and health staff.

    Since Nov 2016 • 369 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Neil,

    Reclassification to Class A makes a lot of sense. Ideally some drugs that are currently Class A could be reclassified so that Class A is just for those drugs that are inherently very dangerous.

    That would be an excellent step.

    As part of the treatment side of things the government should look at setting up secure detox units attached to Emergency Departments to handle people coming off meth and synthetics. That would provide a safe environment for both users and health staff.

    And so would that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22807 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    This is fantastic news. If you had told me 2 days ago it was coming I would not have believed it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    This is fantastic news. If you had told me 2 days ago it was coming I would not have believed it.

    I was fairly gobsmacked when the Minister of Health called this morning to give me a heads-up.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22807 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    This is now my favorite NZ government ever. I mean the whole government too, the Greens and NZF get a lot of credit.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    OTOH, "police discretion" tends to be unevenly applied in practice, so this should be seen only as a stopgap measure.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1922 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    National's response: "“This is mickey-mouse policy made on the hoof."

    If they can't find good policies, could they at least find a good dictionary? Next they will be telling us there's an elephant in the room, a dog's breakfast with the cat among the pigeons.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1328 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to linger,

    OTOH, “police discretion” tends to be unevenly applied in practice, so this should be seen only as a stopgap measure.

    Yes. But it's a pretty big step.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22807 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to linger,

    this should be seen only as a stopgap measure.

    It sounds like that's how the Govt does see it. It's also like trainer policy - if society doesn't collapse as a result of this, then formalizing it properly later on is way easier. It also makes a lot of sense that it happens near simultaneously with the medicinal cannabis bill. Otherwise that stood a big chance of being a corrupted gateway stopgap measure in a really crappy way. Now, there is a much reduced incentive to subvert the medicinal pathway as a backdoor for recreational cannabis, giving that pathway a real chance of showing its worth.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Kazam,

    This is a big thing indeed...I can't sleep I am so excited. Waited over 40 years for the day when I can grow a couple of plants for my own very modest use without fear of police prosecution or public condemnation. I don't know about anyone else but I will be out shopping this weekend for a grow tent ( as it's a bit late for outdoors).Yes I know it's still technically illegal.... but the change is clear and faster than I thought it could be.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2018 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Kazam,

    Yes I know it’s still technically illegal…. but the change is clear and faster than I thought it could be.

    Hmmm, steady on there. Cultivation isn't part of this, and even as they've sharply reduced the number of possession prosecutions in the past 10 years, the police have continued to bust growers.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22807 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The Science Media Centre has expert reactions from Dr Paul Quigley, Dr Fiona Hutton and Professor Doug Sellman.

    They are extremely positive reactions.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22807 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Please don't tell us you've been txting him. :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • warren bryson,

    thank you Russell for your skills and efforts to educate about drugs -You are making a great help to reduce drug and drug-law related harms. However..... i know its probably an error, but please, please, please refer to synthetics drugs as just that. Writing synthetic cannabinoids gives the impression these drugs are synthetic versions of cannabis, Less knowledgeable people might infer that they are similar drugs when in fact the synthetic drugs are more like fentanyl or homebake. kia kaha wazza

    mid canterbury • Since Dec 2018 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Katita, in reply to BenWilson,

    +1

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 67 posts Report Reply

  • Jacob, in reply to warren bryson,

    While I understand what you mean when you say they shouldn't be titled synthetic cannabinoids especially since a lot of people are uneducated about cannabis (which has phytocannabinoids with a relatively good safety profile) but if they are called synthetic drugs then the public could relate them to the medication they take which might be created synthetically, some people won't know the difference, and who knows if that may make them scared to take their medication in fear that they could have a response like people have to these cannabinoids.

    And the chemicals themselves are also slightly similar as they act mostly on the cannabinoid receptors, while tetrahydrocannabinol is a partial agonist to these receptors, most synthetically created cannabinoids are full agonists. So they are pretty similar, but yes the effects of the synthetic cannabinoids commonly found in New Zealand are stronger and very different to cannabis (not from experience, but the chemicals are known to have a higher potency.)

    New Zealand • Since Dec 2018 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Praise for Russell’s advocacy from another media source. https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2018/12/18/367890/media-person-of-the-year-1

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2557 posts Report Reply

  • Worik,

    \cynic_mode{on}

    therapeutic approach more beneficial

    So not for cannabis, which itself is therapeutic...

    no public interest in a prosecution

    so bust young men, they are always guilty of something so best be safe and bust scruffy brown. ones who are just disturbing.
    \cynic_mode{off}

    Waitati • Since Jan 2017 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    Either abolish the Misuse of Drugs Act, or provide an evidence-based quanta that is focused on harm minimisation, risk reduction, rehabilitation or exit (if that is what users choose), with a corresponding focus on the magnitude and severity of harm. And abolish the Class C category altogether.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 567 posts Report Reply

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