‘Decriminalisation’ drug law change tightened at 11th hour

NZ Herald 7 August 2019
Family First Comment: The government has now decriminalised not just cannabis, but ALL drugs – P, cocaine, heroine etc
Thankfully NZ First has softened just how radical it is – but it’s still flawed.
“NZ Police Association president Chris Cahill said under the original bill, police would consider health and addiction issues if they came across a group of people smoking methamphetamine at a kids’ playground. Under the changed bill, he said the officers would consider the environment and whether the activity was harming the community.”
National MP Paula Bennett said the bill decriminalized drugs by stealth. “National supports both greater rehabilitation and tougher sentences, treatment and deterrence should go hand in hand. However this Bill means Police won’t prosecute people who are buying and using hard drugs including P, heroin and cocaine.”
#softondrugs

A late change to a bill described as de facto decriminalisation of drug use is likely to swing the balance more towards police prosecutions and away from health referrals, the Police Association says.

But association president Chris Cahill said he still expected the Misuse of Drugs Amendment bill, which passed its third reading today, to lead to a “significant” drop in prosecutions for drug use.

The change to the bill means that the test for prosecuting drug users will be whether a therapeutic approach would be more beneficial “to the public interest” rather than for the individual involved.

It was championed by New Zealand First and agreed to by Labour and the Greens, and accepted during the committee stage of the bill last night.

The Police Association, the Drug Foundation, the Law Society and the Green Party have all called the original bill effective decriminalisation for drug use because it meant police should only prosecute drug users if that was a better outcome than a therapeutic approach.
READ MORE: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?objectid=12256494&ref=twitter

Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill passes final reading
Radio NZ News 7 August 2019
National police spokesperson Brett Hudson said it would tie the hands of police and Crown prosecutors.

Mr Hudson said if for example someone caught multiple time with possession of meth and the police deemed it in the public interest to prosecute, as soon the case went to court it would be challenged.

“They can argue in the court it has to be proven a health-based approach would not have been better in the public interest in that case and that did not and has not existed in the discretionary powers officers have exercised before,” he said.

National MP Paula Bennett said the bill decriminalized drugs by stealth.

“National supports both greater rehabilitation and tougher sentences, treatment and deterrence should go hand in hand.

“However this Bill means Police won’t prosecute people who are buying and using hard drugs including P, heroin and cocaine,” she said.

Ms Bennett added police aren’t social workers and the bill meant it will be up to them to help people try to find services that don’t exist.
READ MORE: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/396192/misuse-of-drugs-amendment-bill-passes-final-reading
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