The Green Party is disappointed by moves to ban benzylpiperazine (BZP) announced by the Government today.
"The move to prohibition is foolhardy and unfortunate and will force an illegal market," Green Party Drug Law Reform Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.
"There are health issues relating to all drugs. The way to counter these is to place strong regulations on their sale and use, not force them underground. As evidenced by current examples of prohibition, this move will only serve to increase the cost and decrease the effectiveness of any harm minimization efforts.
"The Green Party would support stringent regulations, such as heavily enforced age restrictions, restrictions on outlets, mandatory health information and severe penalties for breaching such regulations. The 'party pill' industry has always indicated it is welcome new, stronger regulation.
"Some people have suffered serious reactions from the use of BZP. That's exactly why we need to focus on protecting people from harm. Prohibition is the number one way to make it more difficult for health and enforcement agencies to help people.
"I'm very much looking forward to the upcoming review of the Misuse of Drugs Act. Two of the most harmful drugs in New Zealand are the two legal and readily available ones. Any review of drug legislation should include alcohol and tobacco.
"The Greens would like to see a consistent framework for the regulation, treatment and information on all drugs. We would welcome a new classification of Class D drugs, to which both alcohol and tobacco, along with BZP, should belong. Strong regulations could then be applied to the sale and use of all of these drugs.
"Experience shows that complete prohibition does nothing to make drugs safer, to lessen impacts or curtail overall drug use. Going down the route of criminalisation will doing nothing to protect our young people.
"I am at least pleased that the Government has chosen to make these changes using the full legislative process, rather than by resolution — this will mean that the decision is open to full public and parliamentary scrutiny and debate," Mrs Turei says.