Monday, May 29, 2017

Is drug reform coming?

Fifteen years ago, Peter Dunne's role as Associate Minister of Health in the Clark Labour government was to consistently stymie any move towards drug reform and cannabis decriminalisation. How things have changed:

Change to New Zealand's drug laws is "inevitable" - and associate health minister Peter Dunne says he's willing to lead the debate on it.

Dunne envisions an Aotearoa where the drug trade is no longer controlled by gangs, but by the law - with licenced drug sellers able to cultivate and distribute tested and approved class C drugs such as cannabis.

He cautions he is not calling for the legalisation and decriminalisation of cannabis and other class C drugs, but rather a change to the way they're classified.

Dunne believes New Zealand could first move to the Portuguese method of drug control, where anyone caught with less than 10 days worth of drugs in their possession won't be prosecuted, but will instead be fined and sent for treatment.

There's more on Public Address about what this would look like in practice (and the insanity of our current drug laws) here. But given the empirical evidence of the utter futility of the drug war and the success of decriminalisation policies, its fortunate that we have an Associate Minister who is actually open to that evidence, rather than simply ignoring it.

And this poses an obvious question? Where does Greg O'Connor stand on drug reform? Because while the electorate battle in Ohariu is meaningless in terms of the overall election outcome, it may have significant policy implications.