The New Zealand Green Party Thursday launched a comprehensive proposal for a new drug policy emphasizing prevention, education, harm reduction, and the scientific evaluation of the relative risks and dangers of various substances. The proposal would overhaul the country's Misuse of Drugs Act to control all drugs, including alcohol and tobacco. It also calls for the legalization of marijuana possession for people over 18.
"Our policy tackles the issue of drug law reform on two major fronts," said Nandor Tanzos, the Greens' drug policy spokesperson. "We must reduce the abuse of alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and other drugs while also reducing the size of the illicit drugs market. All drugs can cause harm. Inconsistent legislation only causes more. We are proposing an integrated and consistent approach to psychoactive drugs that not only deals with criminal sanctions but also looks at drug education and treatment."
The Greens are calling for an advisory panel of health, justice, and legal experts to come up with a rationalized drug policy consistent with an evidence-based framework. "At present we have the Sale of Liquor Act, Smokefree Environments Act, the Misuse of Drugs Act, and others. It's a hell of a mess. It would be better to have one consistent law that included all psychoactive drugs, from tobacco to cannabis to codeine, but treats them differently according to the scientific evidence," said Tanczos.
"Of course drugs such as methamphetamine would still be illegal to possess or sell, while others such as alcohol would be R18, with advertising restrictions and consumer warnings, Tanczos continued. "The classification of different drugs would be decided by experts rather than politicians and would include a focus on treatment. The first response to, for example, underage use of any drug should be some basic drug education and assessment, and if there is a drug problem, proper treatment. At the moment the law is silent and so some young people get a slap on the hand, others get expelled from school, while others get a criminal conviction."
Read more about the Greens' drug policy proposal at http://www.greens.org.nz/searchdocs/policy4749.html online.