INDEPENDENT NEWS

Care, consistency, control: Greens drug policy

Published: Wed 29 Sep 2004 02:00 PM
29 September, 2004
Care, consistency, control: Greens launch drug policy
The Green Party launched a comprehensive proposal to cover all controlled drugs today.
Green MPs Nandor Tanczos and Sue Kedgley said today that the Drug Law Reform policy, paving the way for an overhaul of the Misuse of Drugs Act, aims to provide the greatest level of 'harm reduction' for society.
Anti P Campaigner Jed Thian talks with Green MP Nandor Tanczos after the Green Party's drug policy launch.
"Our policy tackles the issue of drug law reform on two major fronts," said Nandor, the Drug Policy spokesperson. "We must reduce the abuse of alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and other drugs while also reducing the size of the illicit drugs market.
"All drugs can cause harm. Inconsistent legislation only causes more. We are proposing an integrated and consistent approach to psychoactive drugs that not only deals with criminal sanctions but also looks at drug education and treatment."
The Greens are calling for an advisory group of health, justice and legal experts with public input to put together proposals to rationalise the messy system into a consistent, evidence-based an integrated framework. As part of the launch the Greens have developed an example of how a different framework could work.
"At present we have the Sale of Liquor Act, Smokefree Environments Act, the Misuse of Drugs Act, and others. It's a hell of a mess. It would be better to have one consistent law that included all psychoactive drugs, from tobacco to cannabis to codeine, but treats them differently according to the scientific evidence," said Nandor.
"Of course drugs such as methamphetamine would still be illegal to possess or sell, while others such as alcohol would be R18, with advertising restrictions and consumer warnings. The classification of different drugs would be decided by experts rather than politicians and would include a focus on treatment.
"The first response to, for example, underage use of any drug should be some basic drug education and assessment, and if there is a drug problem, proper treatment. At the moment the law is silent and so some young people get a slap on the hand, others get expelled from school, while others get a criminal conviction."
Sue Kedgley, the Green Party's Health spokesperson, said that a new approach was urgently needed that recognised that all drugs can cause serious physical, mental and social harm if they are misused or overused.
"There's no point in coming down hard on some drugs and turning a blind eye to others; allowing some drugs to be promoted and glamorised, while others are demonised.
"We need an integrated approach to all drugs and a consistent approach to reducing their harm through treatment and education - whether they are prescription drugs, alcohol, tobacco or cannabis," she said.
ENDS

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