I'm not sure this conversation is going anywhere useful wrt to the original post. I'll close it for the time being, thanks everyone.
Righto folks, thanks very much that's the conclusion of the discussion stage. Voting starts tomorrow!
The Science Media Centre has expert reactions from Dr Paul Quigley, Dr Fiona Hutton and Professor Doug Sellman.
They are extremely positive reactions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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."
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.
The Drug Foundation's response: good start, but we really need to replace the Misuse of Drugs Act.