Drug law reform organisation NORML says the government’s temporary ban on synthetic cannabis provides time for proper consideration of the Law Commission’s report issued in May.

“Low risk drugs like cannabis and party pills should be regulated, not banned”, says Acting President Phil Saxby. “The huge popularity of party pills before they were banned is an indication that young people want access to safe, legal psychoactive drugs. Banning them only drives people towards illegal drugs and/or alcohol”.

“The Law Commission rightly concluded that new psychoactive drugs should be subject to controls in the public interest. NORML welcomes the undertaking from Peter Dunne that the 43 synthetic cannabis drugs will be scientifically assessed within the 12 months and then regulated appropriate to their risk-level.”

“We say, “Regulate and Educate”. With over 400,000 adult users of illicit drugs, politicians and the news media must accept that the time has come to regulate the drugs market, rather than attempt to ban it,” he says.

Banning substances permanently will only drive problems underground, says Phil Saxby. “Last November, 3.4 million Californians voted for a regulated (adults only), taxable market for cannabis. Thousands of submissions to the Law Commission asked for this to apply here in New Zealand.”

Prohibition contributes to NZ having the highest arrest rate in the world for cannabis offences, and also one of the highest incarceration rates in the world. “If prohibition worked, NZ would not also have (alongside Australia) the world’s highest teenage rate of cannabis use.”

Each Member of Parliament is being sent a DVD copy of “The Union – the business behind getting high“. This Canadian documentary was selected for 33 international film festivals and judged Best Canadian Documentary by the 2007 Edmonton Film Festival.

Our hope is that Parliament will use the Law Commission report and well-researched material such as this documentary to take NZ forward to a just and effective drug policy, based on evidence rather than prejudice.