Government to decriminalise drugs

The government looks set to decriminalise all drug possession and use. Except they’re not. According to the government.

The Government says its bill to make drug use a health issue is not default decriminalisation, even though a select committee was told today that prosecutions for drug use or possession will seldom if ever be brought under the bill.
[…] The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill, currently before the committee, is the Government’s response to the synthetic cannabis crisis and would classify synthetic drugs AMB-FUBINACA and 5F-ADB as Class A drugs; dealers of Class A drugs face a lifetime in prison.

It would also codify police discretion into law, clarifying that a prosecution for drug use or possession – regardless of which drug – should only be pursued if it was in the public interest, taking into account whether a “health-centred or therapeutic approach would be more beneficial”.

A newspaper

This is the important bit of the proposed amendment. What the relevant clause does is basically decriminalise the possession of all drugs and decriminalise the possession and distribution of cannabis. quote.

Quote:Several submitters, including the Law Society and the Police Association, told the committee that the wording in the bill would effectively decriminalise all drug use and possession because it would be easy to argue in court that every user would benefit more from a therapeutic approach than a prosecution.End of quote.

It’d also effectively make cannabis social clubs legal as it’d be impossible to argue that going after something set up to reduce harm from cannabis could ever be in the public interest. quote.

Quote:Association president Chris Cahill told the committee that the bill was effectively telling police to move from a default presumption to prosecute to one of non-prosecution for all drug users, which would lead to a “dramatic” decline in police charges.End of quote.

And this is a bad thing how? By far the majority of instances of recreational drug use are harmless, even positive, and occur in private. But drugs are bad! Drugs kill! Well I could say the same thing about guns and we’d both be wrong. It is the misuse of drugs that is bad. quote.

Quote:While the association did not have a position for or against decriminalisation, he said it was an issue that should have wider public debate rather than be “slipped in” to a bill that was primarily about synthetic drugs.End of quote.

Absolute nonsense. We live in a representative democracy. This means we vote for politicians to make decisions for us. If they don’t do a good job we vote them out. And by the way it is absolutely ridiculous we have to have a stupid referendum to legalise cannabis but I guess it’s better than nothing. quote.

Quote:[…] Law Society spokesman Chris Macklin told the committee that the wording in the bill would make it easy for a lawyer to argue that a prosecution should never have been brought.

National MP Michael Woodhouse asked Macklin: “Can you conceive of, as a prosecutor, receiving advice from police that a prosecution – for possession only – of any drug would ever be in the public interest under this [bill]?”

Macklin replied: “No, I can’t on the spot now conceive of that.”End of quote.

Yep, decriminalisation. quote.

Quote:The National Party has said the bill would decriminalise all drug use, but that has been rejected by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Police Minister Stuart Nash and Health Minister David Clark.

Ardern said police could prosecute drug users if it was in the public interest.

“There will certainly, I’m sure, be circumstances where that might be the case.”

Nash said the bill aimed to take a health approach, not a criminal approach, but it was not decriminalisation.

“If it is the public interest to prosecute, police have the ability to do so, but by and large, we want police to take a health approach because the evidence shows that this is much more effective in getting people out of the web of addiction.”End of quote.

For the government to say this isn’t decriminalisation is like pissing on the public’s leg and saying it’s raining.

The government needs to be honest and say this is decriminalisation, this is why we’re doing it, and this is why it’s the right thing to do.