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Health Minister out of step on drug law

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman’s kneejerk opposition to changing the legal status of cannabis is out of step with the Police Association and a growing international consensus that current drug laws aren’t working, the Green Party said today.

The Police Association this morning said updating our drug laws could be a way of reducing gang crime.  This followed a major review by the Lancet and Johns Hopkins University that found that the world-wide ‘war on drugs’ has caused more harm than good.

“Jonathan Coleman is totally out of step with what the world-wide evidence shows is needed to keep people safe, and what the Police, the Law Commission, treatment agencies and many others say is the reality on the ground,” said Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague.

“This shows the need for Parliament to come together in a non-partisan approach to reducing the harm of drugs, through law reform focussed first on public health.

“The Drug Foundation today described how the Police have adopted a de-facto decriminalisation stance, by not prosecuting minor drug crimes.

“Drug law reform would help tackle organised crime by removing a source of revenue, while also reducing harm to people who use drugs.

“The Green Party wants to work with all parties on changing outdated drug laws that penalise petty offenders and don’t address the causes of drug harm.

“By not listening to those who work in the sector and know the issues, Dr Coleman is not working in the interests of the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders. It also runs the risk that the Misuse of Drugs Act will become another law that reflects the fossilised attitudes of the past, and hinders rather than helps treatment and enforcement agencies” said Mr Hague.