Wednesday, February 17, 2010

NZ politicians defy drug law review advice

Ruling conservatives in New Zealand have categorically refused to follow the advice of their own drug law review even though its terms of reference restricted it to a prohibition model. The Law Commission Review concluded that the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975... longer provides a coherent and effective legislative framework for responding to the misuse of psychoactive drugs... The Act is now outdated and does not reflect current knowledge and understanding about drug use and related health, social and economic harms.
The Commission recommended a caution and diversion approach for people charged with personal use of small quantities of drugs, citing overwhelming Australian evidence that this approach saved police time, reduced the load on courts and prisons and reduced drug use and re-offence.

The NZ government has categorically rejected the conclusions, saying that such efficiency and harm reduction would "send the wrong message". They don't seem to be able to come up with more substantial arguments, and they ignore the rather obvious fact that the government, if it adopted the Review's advice, could use some of the money it saved to send any message it liked through education and advertising.

It seems they prefer 'sending a message' of ideological inflexibility, higher levels of drug use and harm, and wasting police time and money. So much for economic rationalism.

A more thorough report on the issue from the NZ Drug Foundation is published in the Pundit.

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