Evidence on drugs ignored

Written By: - Date published: 10:32 am, February 12th, 2010 - 21 comments
Categories: drugs, Social issues - Tags:

Minister of Justice Simon Power has unfortunately decided to completely ignore recommendations made by the Law Commission on drug reform. This is an unfortunate missed opportunity.

I absolutely agree with David Farrar who says:

Simon Power must have a very sore kneecap after what was an un-necessary kneejerk rejection of pretty much everything in the Law Commission’s review of drug laws…

I’m surprised and somewhat disappointed by such a response especially that Simon is generally seen as one of the more liberal and considered Ministers.

I too expected Simon Power to be a bit more open to the clear and evidence-based arguments put forward by the Law Commission. It’s a missed opportunity that does nothing to solve the drug problem in our society.

As David’s summary notes, the proposed changes included:

Move from a three tier system (Class A, B and C) to a two tier classification system, to more clearly distinguish between the very harmful and less harmful drugs.

Rather than have arguments over whether drugs were for purpose of use or supply, have two different possession offences with a higher maximum penalty for the higher quantity offence.

A formal cautioning scheme, with up to three cautions for personal use offences, with requirements to undertake an intervention session and counselling

Option of infringement notices requiring a fine and/or attend a drug education session for less serious drugs

Prohibit any new psychoactive substance from being manufactured, produced or imported without prior approval

With almost half of Kiwis admitting to have used Cannabis, drugs aren’t simply going to go away. It’s about time a government stood up and took a sensible approach to the issue.

Update: [lprent: So far the best reading on this subject is at Imperator Fish, where ‘Simon Power’ proclaims that he never uses ‘evidence’ and plans to eradicate its use. Definitely worth reading. ]

21 comments on “Evidence on drugs ignored”

  1. randal 1

    this government is about bashing people up or otherwise loading them up with very expensive layers of bureaucracy which first mover parlaiamentarians can personally profit from.
    its not rocket science and they are not rocket scientists.

  2. Lew 2

    The best response so far, in my humble, has been from Scott Yorke.


    • Mr Magoo 2.1

      He forgot to mention he never inhaled. Or is it more chic now to say you did because of Obama?

      I am too stoned to work that one out. Come on Friday night I say! 😉

  3. Lanthanide 3

    FYI, one of the writers of this was on national radio this morning.

    1. They said (several times) that this is not a list of recommendations. It is instead a discussion document. They will take feedback from the public etc before they make final recommendations.
    2. Following on from above, they put out the idea of having 2 categories instead of 3 to get feedback on it, but the groups view is that it would probably be better to retain the current 3-tier system.
    3. The guy said that all of these ideas are to work in parallel with the current system. Eg this is not some step towards decriminalisation of drugs or weakening of the law, as Power has seen it as. Instead it is a framework under which the police can take alternative action as appropriate, rather than going through the current court process every single time someone is found with a couple of grams of cannabis. He said that the vast majority of people eat up a lot of public resources in terms of police time and court costs, only to be fined a small amount, and rarely does anyone go to jail. The idea with these suggestions is that the police could choose the alternative short path on a case-by-case basis, and reserve the court path for more serious offences only. Basically the idea is to save time and money by delivering the most common outcome more cheaply and quickly, rather than be soft on drugs.

  4. the sprout 4

    3 cheers for irrational drug policy!
    makes you wonder what these people are on?

  5. SHG 5

    Power reminds me of Australian Labor’s Stephen Conroy (Mr Internet Censorship).Blind dogmatic ignorance.

  6. Scott 6

    “I absolutely agree with David Farrar”

    Hope you feel better soon.

    • Lew 6.1

      And what’s even more remarkable is that there wasn’t a single reference to stopped clocks, blind pigs or any such. Truly, the alignment of the planets is doing strange things.


  7. MikeE 7

    Agree completely,

    Of course – unfortunately labour are of the same mindset as the nats on this one, I seem to remember posts on this very website cheerleading for the BZP ban.

    Currently only the ACT and the Greens are the only parties with anything remotely looking like sensible aproaches to drug policy (except the greens tend to have a bit of a mixed approach).

  8. I thought The Standard didn’t link to “the sewer”????!

    • felix 8.1

      You thought wrong. Check the sidebar.

    • The Voice of Reason 8.2

      Not the first time, won’t be the last, I’d guess. Farrar can’t be a tool on every topic, so no problem giving him credit where it’s due, as I see it. Might be different for the C slug as he has a proud record of never posting anything worth linking to.

    • lprent 8.3

      The only site that we actively don’t link to is wherever whale is. That is a matter of personal distaste by the moderators. But we do tend to link to sites that authors read. It is completely arbitrary and done by whatever moderator cares to do it.

      I scan every few months and remove any that haven’t been active. Typically is they haven’t written new content for 3 or more months.

  9. MikeE 9

    Minister’s Drug Revelation Leads To Call For Resignation

    ACT on Campus is calling for the resignation of Justice Minister Simon Power, following his comments on Drug Reform policy on Thursday.

    Responding to a set of drug law reform proposals laid out by the Law Commission, Mr. Power told The Dominion Post on Thursday that there was not a single solitary chance that as long as he was the Minister of Justice that drug laws would be relaxed in New Zealand.

    “Where’s the justice in Minister Power proclaiming what will be the law without regard for the Commission’s research and the views of the New Zealand public? The Minister should resign and make way for someone who is willing to consider the evidence and listen to the public.’ said Peter McCaffrey, ACT on Campus Vice President.

    ACT on Campus is encouraged by the Law Commission’s proposals which would allow marijuana to be used for medicinal purposes, and ensure that those using marijuana recreationally would not be criminalised and imprisoned, but instead be sent to rehab.

    “Victimless crimes should not be crimes and all and highly restrictive drug laws are more harmful than the drugs themselves as they drive the drug trade underground, often leading users and addicts resorting to crime to fund their habits.’ said Peter McCaffrey.


    Lets see something similar from the Greens and Labour..

  10. The Voice of Reason 11

    My evaluation of Power’s position is that he wants to be seen as tough on crime so that he can minimise the reasonable perception that he is a liberal softy on most matters. That’ll be important for building a working alliance with Act on the opposition benches post election.

    As for the recommendations themselves, the UK and Australia have flip flopped back and forth in recent years over cannabis and it’s pretty clear that, whatevere the pollies say, the police in both countries take a ‘so what’ line for possesion and concentrate on commercial dealers. Sensible really.

    Still, as we know, smoking dope is addictive and it kills over half of all users and shortens the life of those that it doesn’t kill. Or is that tobacco?

    • Axpier 11.1

      Or is that tobacco?


    • MikeE 11.2

      I don’t see how this stance helps with the ACT relationship when most members in ACT are socially liberal, and don’t want to see the cops wasting time with what are victimless crimes.

      The tough on crime brigade want REAL crime to be punished, not wasting police time with drug offenses.

  11. randal 12

    voice of reason..none of the above.
    power is concerned about what his mates in the DEA think.
    they love antidrug laws because then they can invest in prison companies.
    note:no one can invest in the prison companies here.
    ownership is tightly controlled.
    its not rocket science.

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