Canvassing for Opinion - aka "Blairs Brain on Cannabis"

IMHO prohibition sentiment requires inherent addiction to status quo, an incapacity to visualise beyond the here and now and a desperate desire to know others might feel the same... Reform is not revolutionary, rather it is evolutionary. Having survived banging your head against a brick wall the evolutionist relishes having stopped. / Blair

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

New drug laws 'breach human rights'

New drug laws 'breach human rights'
24 November 2004

By DANYA LEVY

New laws increasing police power to search and seize suspected drug dealers' substances are draconian and breach basic human rights, the Government was told today.

The health select committee was hearing submissions into the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill (No. 3) which will give police and customs wider powers to track and charge people dealing in drug ingredients.

Officers will be able to search people suspected of possessing precursors for pure methamphetamine, know as "P".

P is manufactured using pseudoephedrine, which is found in some common pharmacy cough and flu medicines.

The Drug Foundation said there was a need to reduce the amount of "doctor and pharmacy shopping" for pseudoephedrine.

"However there are substantial human rights issues in detention, search and seizure without warrant, and we strongly recommend that the select committee ensure these are fully addressed during the scrutiny process and possibilities to reduce the impacts considered," Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said.

A proposal to decriminalise the possession of needles and syringes for intravenous drug use did not go far enough, he told the committee.

The removal of all penalties would reduce New Zealand's six per cent needle share rate, or even eliminate it entirely, and decrease the rates of HIV/Aids and hepatitis C infection.

If exchange programmes had not been introduced, by 2001 there would have be 1454 more people with hepatitis C and 1031 more with HIV/Aids, Mr Bell said.

National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Norml) said expanding search and seizure jurisdictions would result in abuse of police power.

"These are draconian powers and not to be handed out lightly," Norml president Chris Fowlie told the committee.

Under the legislation "presumption of supply" laws will apply at lower amounts for some drugs such as P and marijuana.

The new levels were completely arbitrary, Mr Fowlie said.

If people were caught with 100 cannabis joints, 10 plants or one ounce or cannabis they were considered suppliers.

"These are just round figures that someone has plucked out of the air."

Presumption of supply should be done on the basis drug purity, said Matt Bowden of Stargate International, a drug harm reduction group.

Manufacturers could adjust the purity of the drugs they create to ensure they were under supply amounts.

There is a false image that drug manufacturers were gang members, he said "It's actually the average addict, in their home, in their kitchen."

"When you become addicted to the drug and you can't afford to purchase it any more ... you need to be involved in manufacture."

The bill was welcomed by the Pharmaceutical Society, whose members monitor the sale of psuedoephedrine.

The new laws would assist in reducing the abuse of the psuedoephedrine, society chief pharmacist advisor Euan Galloway said.

The committee will hold another round of public submissions into a supplementary order paper by Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton which calls for herbal party drugs such as benzylpiperazine (BZP) to be criminalised.
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