Drug law reform organisation NORML says the Law Commission’s report issued today is still within the prohibition mindset, even though it contains some good recommendations.

Banning more substances, as proposed, will only drive problems underground, says Acting President Phil Saxby. “The Commission accepts that NZ should shift the focus towards health solutions and away from criminal sanctions. But its proposals for banning all psychoactive substances will only increase health problems for young people because they will be driven to use substances from the criminal market.”

“With over 400,000 adult users of illicit drugs, we need to accept that the time has come to regulate the drugs market, rather than attempt to ban it,” he says.

“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,” says Mr Saxby, adding that it was “disappointing” the Law Commission was prevented by its terms of reference from examining the premise on which drug policy is based – prohibition. “We all know it doesn’t work, and just adds more problems to people who may already be grappling with their own problems of addiction,” he says.

“In Portugal, where drugs have been de-criminalised since 2001, drug use among 13-15 year olds has declined by 25 percent; while drug use among 16-18 year olds has declined by 22 percent,” he says.

NORML says it will use the Law Commission’s final report, and the forthcoming election campaign, to make sure there is a sensible debate on the future of New Zealand’s drug laws.

more info: www.lawcom.govt.nz