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Parliament must take historic opportunity to make changes on drug harm reduction

The Green Party is calling on Parliament to take heed of the latest independent report calling for a harm reduction approach to drugs, while the synthetic cannabis crisis continues to grip the country. 

A report released today, commissioned by the NZ Drug Foundation, has reinforced decades of research showing that punishment does not reduce drug use. 

“All parties are in active discussion about updating our drug laws and this presents a historic opportunity to minimise the harm caused by drugs in our communities,” Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick said today. 

“We need sensible drug regulation in New Zealand that minimises harm and supports people rather than sending them to jail. 

“The war on drugs has been tried and it has failed.

“In New Zealand, despite our hard-line rhetoric and criminalisation, the UN Office of Drugs and Crime reports we have some of the highest rates of drug use in the world. 

“Criminalising drug users is not reducing drug consumption. In fact, 16.5% of people who use drugs are too scared to access help in fear of the law or police. 

“If we genuinely want to reduce drug harm, providing services to the 50,000 kiwis that already desperately want help for their drug and alcohol issues would be a good starting point. 

“Politicians can end this unnecessary, deeply irrational suffering. All evidence shows if we want to reduce drug harm – if we genuinely want to stop the deaths so frequently invoked – we must decriminalise drug users and resource their support. 

“I’m calling on colleagues across the House to live up to their rhetoric and get on board with a pragmatic and sensible way forward”.