Brian Rudman: Power chains us to dead-end drug laws4:00 AM Wednesday Feb 17, 2010
Justice Minister Simon Power has made it clear there is no chance drug laws will be relaxed while he is in charge. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Law reform is "the art of the possible" said the Law Commissioners, in explaining why they'd left themselves open to charges of being illogical and hypocritical in excluding alcohol and tobacco from their new review of recreational drugs laws.
Given the hysterical response from Justice Minister Simon Power to their 408-page, three-year long study, Sir Geoffrey Palmer and his fellow commissioners must be wondering if anything is possible under Mr Power.
It's hard to remember a major policy discussion document being so summarily and publicly rejected.
Through gritted teeth, the minister "welcomed" the report, then harrumphed: "I want to make to clear the Government will make no changes to the status quo."
If that wasn't plain enough, he then told journalists that while he would listen to submissions, "there's not a single, solitary chance that as long as I'm Minister of Justice, we'll be relaxing drug laws in New Zealand.
"The Prime Minister has made the war against P and drugs a key part of his leadership and as long as I'm the Minister of Justice, we will not be relaxing drug laws."
Ironically, former Labour Prime Minister Palmer and his law commissioner colleagues use the anti-nanny state argument - that Mr Power and his party so frequently trot out - to back their argument for a change of approach in how we deal with the personal use of drugs.
Going back to basics, they argue: "There is no clear community view that use of mind-altering substances is immoral.
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