Health-based regime for drug abuse and addiction heralds new era of compassion

The Green Party is celebrating significant changes to the Misuse of Drugs Act that will ensure police treat drug addiction like the health issue it is.

"Today we’ve passed the most transformative change in drug law in New Zealand in over 30 years", Green Party spokesperson on drug law reform Chlöe Swarbrick said.

"We’re living up to the rhetoric as a country that implements evidence-based policy, and one that prioritises compassion.

"Informed by the real-world practice of police, working across Government we’ve developed a process to see that those caught in the web of addiction are supported into care and recovery. That means people will no longer be unnecessarily locked up behind bars, we reduce bias and prejudice through data-collection, and we’ll see people supported and helped to recover rather than punished.

"Alongside frontline police, mental health and addiction sector workers, the Greens have advocated loud and clear for over a decade to see drug addiction and abuse treated as the health issue it is. We are proud that this is part of our Confidence and Supply agreement with Labour.

"Mountains of evidence shows that when we take people down the criminal pathway we do nothing to reduce drug use or demand. Instead we increase the harm to those with addiction problems, their communities, and produce greater drug crime.

"This is part of a transformative shift in Aotearoa New Zealand to treat the underlying issues that drive mental health, drug abuse and addiction, away from the draconian, punitive ‘out of sight out of mind’ lock-em-up model.

"Along with the Government response to the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry, and the Misuse of Drugs Amendment, we’re working on regulations to improve patient access to quality, affordable medicinal cannabis products. We are also holding a referendum on the legal regulation of cannabis to secure community wellbeing and control access.

"Today is a significant day for New Zealand and I thank our Government partners Labour and NZ First for working with us to get this passed into law".

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