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Useless laws won’t solve drug problem

Written By: - Date published: 11:50 am, December 3rd, 2010 - 32 comments
Categories: drugs, law and "order" - Tags:

Lawmaking is serious business. It is how we as a community, through our elected representatives, set the bounds and frameworks for our behaviour, allowing our community to function. Laws shouldn’t be made, things shouldn’t be banned, for the hell of it. So why is Parliament passing a law that everyone, including the PM, thinks is pointless?

Here’s the article:

Key doubts drug utensil ban will work
Prime Minister John Key doubts provisions in a government bill aimed at cracking down on implements used for taking drugs will have much impact on the use of methamphetamine.

The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill has been reported back by Parliament’s health select committee, with no significant amendments.

Its main purpose is to make medicines which use methamphetamine precursors ephedrine and pseudoephedrine available only on prescription, but it also contains a clause which makes it an offence to sell, supply and import utensils used to smoke methamphetamine and bans the import of parts of those utensils.

The Labour Party put in a minority report on the bill, saying no evidence had been presented on the merits of further restrictions on drug utensils.

The Green Party said the same thing, arguing there was “no evidence whatsoever that the changes would reduce drug use even slightly”.

Key was asked his opinion today, and said the question was whether the provisions would actually work, and whether drug users would simply resort to home-made implements.

He said he had seen similar recommendations in the past.

“As a general rule no, my experience has been that they haven’t worked very well,” he told reporters.

The committee said in its report on the bill most of the submissions it received were opposed to the utensils clause.

“Many argued that prohibiting drug utensils would be ineffective and would increase the harm suffered by drug users because they would make their own utensils or would buy them illegally,” it said.

“It was also claimed that the importation of utensils would become clandestine, so that the Customs Service would no longer know who the importers were.”

It noted those views but decided by majority not to change the bill.

So, the Nats are going to add yet more items to the long list of banned behaviour, despite the fact that even Key doesn’t think it will do anything. It’s going to be illegal to possess anything that the cops decide is part of a utensil for using P. It’s like they’ve looked at the P ‘epidemic’ (P use has actually been declining for years) and decided – ‘lets do something that won’t fix the problem but will give the Police a vague, potentially huge, power and be an administrative nightmare’.

Don’t they have anything better to do? Or is their instinct just to make more and more things illegal?

32 comments on “Useless laws won’t solve drug problem”

  1. Lats 1

    This sort of thinking does appease their supporters however, it makes them appear to be “tough on crime” while actually doing nothing useful. We as a society ought to be having a proper dialogue on how we set drug policy (well, all policy really, but that would be off topic) rather than just try to ban things we don’t like. Focus on the science behind drug use, the actual harms various substances cause, and not vague moralistic arguments. Keep the emotive rubbish out of the discussion. Use the experience gained by other nations that have dabbled with relaxing drug laws, there is some suggestion that decriminalising actually results in lower usage even though this seems counter-intuitive. There is quite a nice (and short) article on this in New Scientist (link below)

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20827885.500-how-to-see-reality-on-drugs.html

    Anyhow, I’m off to go fishing for the weekend, so have a good one everyone.

  2. burt 2

    Don’t they have anything better to do? Or is their instinct just to make more and more things illegal?

    They must be working on a future supply and confidence deal with Jim Anderton to do something as stupid as this.

    • felix 2.1

      How so?

      It’s entirely in character philosophically and in keeping with their modus operandi to pointlessly overlegislate in an attempt to appear proactive while simultaneously curtailing individual freedom. It’s what they do.

      What’s that burt? Oh you poor thing, you actually believed all that horseshit they talked in opposition, didn’t ya?

      There there.

  3. Draco T Bastard 3

    Or is their instinct just to make more and more things illegal?

    NACT are authoritarians and, as such, their instinct is to ban things – Freedom and democracy be damned.

    • Nick C 3.1

      Then as a lover of freedom sure you were celebrating when National overturned the regulations on incandesent lightbulbs, fast food in schools and regulations on washing products draco

      http://www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?articleId=34380

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1

        Nope, I considered those to be quite reasonable as they helped the community to be healthier and more sustainable – except, possibly, the washing products one. They did this by ensuring that everyone was making more rational decisions based upon fact.

        BTW, there were no regulations on incandescent light bulbs. What there was was a minimum energy efficiency standard that incandescent bulbs can’t meet.

        • ianmac 3.1.1.1

          And nor was there any regulation regarding the Energy Report which looked at various ways of saving energy, for example shower-heads being lower flow, or energy efficient light bulbs, or insulating h/w cylinders. They were just suggestions from a qualified study group but guess who helped attack Dr Smith attack the ideas?

        • Rex Widerstrom 3.1.1.2

          Crack pipes okay, hot dogs not?

          Banning is regulating is setting unattainable “standards”.

          Either governments feel they have carte blanche to dictate what I buy or they don’t. In my view they don’t, unless I’m buying stuff that’s designed solely or primarily to harm others (so I’ll reluctantly accept I can’t drive a tank, damnit).

          But then I’m the kind of person who’d use energy-efficient bulbs to reduce my power bill but, once they were effectively banned, smuggle incandescant lightbulbs into the country just so I could bask in the warm glow of self-satisfaction 😉

          • Lats 3.1.1.2.1

            If you had the weaponry disabled you should be able to drive a tank. Although it might cause quite a bit of damage to the roads, so expect to pay sizable rego and RUC fees to run it. 🙂

          • roger nome 3.1.1.2.2

            lame debating tactic Rex. You can actually stop pies being sold in schools. How the hell do you propose to stop people making and buying amphetamine smoking equipment? Short of a police state, it’s hard to see how you’ll achieve that.

            You can have all the principles in the world, but it’s useless applying them absolutely to the political arena when they have no tangible impact. Get me?

            Time to take your head out of the clouds and acknowledge that, as long as we have the civil liberties that are befitting of a modern democracy, we will have wide-spread drug use.

            It’s all part of this imperfectly beautiful country. IMO we would have a much prettier country if we stopped spending $100,000 per-person, per-year, detaining the victims of drug abuse (usually people who have such an intolerable reality that they chose a distorted reality in preference).

            • Bill 3.1.1.2.2.1

              “…as long as we have the civil liberties that are befitting of a modern democracy, we will have wide-spread drug use.”

              So drug use or abuse is down to individual choice and any fall-out (addiction) the responsibility of the individual who will then have their addiction treated in isolation as though they have a disease?

              “..detaining the victims of drug abuse (usually people who have such an intolerable reality that they chose a distorted reality in preference).”

              So drug use or abuse stems from…systemically?… deleterious socio/economic situations and addiction viewed in light of the influence of those situations?

              Seems you want a bob each way.

              But either drug use and abuse is a choice that is made free of any influence from environmental factors. Or it’s not.

  4. Treetop 4

    Pharmacies administer methadone to prevent crime. The needle exchange programme administers needles to prevent disease.

    It is an offence to be in possession of a knife without a lawful purpose. I do not have an issue with a person being charged having the possession of drug utensils. I do have an issue if they are charged with drug use when no drug is found. As for the sale and importation of drug utensils this needs to be heavily restricted.

    I just hope that the govenment wake up to heavily restricting who can supply alcohol. Anything which causes disquiet or a breach of the peace needs to be managed in such a way as to cause minimal disturbance, harm and cost.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      As for the sale and importation of drug utensils this needs to be heavily restricted.

      Why? It is possible, after all, to smoke tobacco through a bong as well as marijuana.

      • Treetop 4.1.1

        “I do have an issue if they are charged with drug use when no drug is found.” If smoking tobacco through a bong is how a person smokes tobacco they are not smoking an illegal substance.

    • freedom 4.2

      first up, there are many other items that people can can use to make utensils, and many industries that use the same equipment. Most utensils for P are from medical suppliers and most P utensils have no use for marijuana so banning all utensils to battle P is horsemanure. On the other hand anything to get P closed down is fine by me, as long as they stay away from Weed. One is Poison, the other is Medicine ,

      also,
      “Anything which causes disquiet or a breach of the peace needs to be managed in such a way as to cause minimal disturbance, harm and cost.”

      has to be one of the more ridiculous and braindead comments i have ever read anywhere

      how about banning alcohol because it is a chemical depressant and it kills people
      that is a reason to ban something

      such a sad little life some must live to think like this, where is your passion,

      • Treetop 4.2.1

        If something is useless e.g drug utensils for illegal use there is not just a social cost, there is a cost to the economy. How many outlets selling drug paraphernalia is needed?

        As for your comment to my ” Anything which causes disquiet…” I think that it is reasonable that someones drunking does not impact on me anymore than it could. Alcohol in moderation is not the issue, drinking to excess and becoming violent or distructive is as this impacts on society.

      • Lats 4.2.2

        On the other hand anything to get P closed down is fine by me, as long as they stay away from Weed.

        Martin Niemöller said it well I think:
        “In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

  5. BLiP 5

    Why don’t they just go full steam ahead and take this law to its logical conclusion: ban penises. After all, they are used to commit sexual offences.

  6. Jeremy Harris 6

    The sooner we take steps to legalise all drugs, and the utensils to use them, less harmful than alcohol the better…

    Then the Police can focus on catching and housing violent criminals…

    • Lats 6.1

      Couldn’t agree more. Banning paraphenalia makes little or no difference anyway, enterprising kiwis have always turned common household articles into bongs and pipes for cannabis consumption. There’s no reason to think they won’t do likewise in order to use P or any other substance.

  7. Treetop 7

    It did not help that you did not include the first sentence in the paragraph, “I just hope that the government wake up to who can sell alcohol.” I will clarify this, some superetts look like a bottle store or the alcohol shelving in a supermarket. As well I think alcohol outlets have doubled in ten years.

  8. Its main purpose is to make medicines which use methamphetamine precursors ephedrine and pseudoephedrine available only on prescription

    Why make it time-consuming and expensive to obtain the only effective remedy for colds and flu suffered by virtually everyone in the country at some point during the year, just to curb the activities of pill hoarders?

    There’s this thing called the internet, you troglodyte MPs. It connects computers together. So in other, more enlightened countries, each pharmacist’s computer registers your pseudoephedrine purchase on a central database (after you’ve shown them photo ID) and if you’re buying an unsual amount you get a visit from Mr Plod. It’s not bloody rocket science, you dolts.

    • BLiP 8.1

      There’s the privacy implications, I guess. Who wants the state to know every time they sneeze? But, yep, from your perspective, monitoring the sale of the precursor drugs is a good crime fighting tool. I’m surprised National Ltd™ didn’t think of that . . . oh, hang on.

      • higherstandard 8.1.1

        All medicine sales into and ex pharmacy can and are pretty easily tracked the lunacy of making them only available on rX doesn’t really do squat to decrease the main supply chain for precursors.

        From my understanding the vast amount of precursors are coming in from China and other Asian suppliers via the ports you can probably buy 100kgs of bulk active for a couple of thousand dollars online with a couple of clicks of a mouse.

      • swimmer 8.1.2

        I got refused sale by a girl at a pharmacy for trying to buy panadol cold and flu PE, not even pseudoephredrine, just because she didn’t want me to suppress my cold. I had something very important to attend that day and she argued that it wasn’t ethical to sell this unrestricted medicine to me. I mean cough suppressants are there to be bought. People should stop interfering with a person’s right to get what they need for their bodies. There was something mentioned on Breakfast a few months back about a suggestion of making strepsils pharmacy only. In making pseudoephredrine prescription only they are just making it more expensive and disempowering the people who need relief.

        • M 8.1.2.1

          Swimmer, report the officious little minx. I, too have been in the same situation when a fill-in at my regurlar local pharmacy pulled this stunt with me so I got my pills elsewhere and went and complained to my regular pharmacist when he returned – the squeaky wheel gets the oil.

          FFS most people cannot afford to abuse PE, I know I can’t and don’t like taking pills anyway but sometimes you just have to especially if you’re turning into a snot monster. As Rex says Big Brother can track your purchases very well.

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