Bin the Misuse of Drugs Act, most New Zealanders agree

A new poll shows that the majority of people back the Greens’ call on the Government to overhaul the country’s criminally punitive, anti-evidence drug law.

Polling released today by the NZ Drug Foundation shows 68% of New Zealanders support replacing the country’s 1975 Misuse of Drugs Act with a health-based approach. A clear majority of people (61%) also support removing penalties for drug use, replacing them with more support for education and treatment.

“Our draconian drug laws have been hacked at for fifty years now, yet the Frankenstein Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 continues to zombie along, causing more and more harm. It’s past time to follow the evidence, which most New Zealanders also support,” says Green Party Drug Reform spokesperson, Chlöe Swarbrick.

“Make no mistake, that this anti-evidence law remains the backbone of the Government’s approach to substances is a political calculation. We’ve long known that this criminal prohibition not only pushes these problems into the shadows but are also applied unfairly and discriminatorily.

“As we reflect on the reality that America’s Supreme Court abortion ruling doesn’t mean abortions won’t happen, but will simply become less safe and less equitably available, the same logic extends to the drug laws we imported from the States half a century ago.

“The Government’s own He Ara Oranga (Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction) called for decriminalisation, and Turuki! Turuki! (Safe and Effective Justice Review) went even further, suggesting legal regulation of some currently illicit drugs.

“The Government continues to spend four times as much on ineffective drug law enforcement than on measures focused on genuinely reducing harm in the first place.

“Meanwhile, harm interventions like methamphetamine demand reduction programme Te Ara Oranga deliver 34% reduction in offending and $3-$7 return for every dollar spent and we continue to have to fight for its common-sense expansion nationwide.

“If the close result in the cannabis referendum showed anything, it’s that the status quo is untenable. It’s time for the Government to heed its own advice and repeal and replace the Misuse of Drugs Act,” says Chlöe Swarbrick.

ENDS

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