Misuse of parliamentary procedure to change Misuse of Drugs Act

Today Parliament debated a proposal from Peter Dunne to change the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill to allow him to ban any substance that might cause harm, essentially by decree. The original bill — which went through the health select committee in November last year — was flawed to begin with.

The original bill was already doing some daft things — significantly expanding offences relating hardware that could be drug-taking utensils, and making medicines containing pseudoephedrine ‘prescription only’ in the name of the war against P.

Now Dunne has abused the parliamentary process to introduce an amendment that has no real relationship with the original Bill, except that it too is connected with drugs. If we had tried doing this it would’ve been ruled out of order, because people who submitted on the Bill could not have anticipated that this might become part of it and so won’t have commented about it.

I maintain that if the Government wanted to add in this whole new set of provisions, they should have used the recent two week recess to give the public the opportunity to have a say about the plans. I challenged them to do this three weeks ago, but to no avail. There has been enough time to run an acceptable process, but Government has simply chosen not to do so.

Along with this poor process, the amendment itself is rather bad.

Under the proposed law, the minister could gazette pretty much any substance that could result in harm — salt, caffeine, icing sugar — therefore making it a class C substance. There would be no public scrutiny or medical/scientific advice.

The “herbal high” industry has done a very poor job since the issue of synthetic cannabis turned into a public debate. There have been problems with the quality of their product and they have acted irresponsibly when criticised.

We do want regulation of synthetic cannabis, but the move to outright ban it is not the right direction.
The Law Commission issued a report last year which recommends that we move away from the ineffective and dangerous criminalisation of drugs to a model that minimises harm.

The best lifestyle is a drug free lifestyle, but banning synthetic cannabis and criminalising users is not the answer. Regulating the industry and providing addiction support services is a better option.

Peter Dunne has circumvented the democratic process by not letting this issue that — judging from the media coverage — is of great public interest, go to select committee.

About Kevin Hague 163 Articles

Green Party Member of Parliament

11 Comments Posted

  1. “Danyl and others who support compulsory union membership are (unwittingly?) running contrary to any idea of social justice.”

    Well I would be, if I supported “compulsory” anything, which I don’t.

    The phrase “compulsory union membership” is a propaganda tool. It’s untrue (as I explained above) calculated to make automatic membership with an opt-out seem sinister. In fact, there are many arguments for why students benefit more from this than from the opt-in system that anti-union ACTivists prefer, the obvious one being the ability to get the cost of membership included in student loan, rather than students having to scratch about for the money to join at the start of each year of study, while they are being hit with a multitude of other costs.

  2. So, by a minister abusing parliamentary privilege we now have a government that will rule on the percieved harm of a product without public submission nor the requirement to consider tests to save us from the terror of drugs? This is being led by a man whom we pay as a minister and entrust to do the right thing for all new Zealanders and irrespective of the advisory groups recommendations to “move away from the ineffective and dangerous criminalization of drugs to a model that minimises harm” he advocates the further removal of civil rights especially targeted at the end user. The result, fill up the prisons with the people this amendment is being heralded as saving.
    I guess if all the prisons were fill of end users then the kingpins would have no one to sell too and eventually go broke, maybe not.

    Ironically we have a similar number of people with gambling problems yet I can be welcomed into a casino where the odds are staked against me, the environment tuned to keep me there and if I practise and get good, i am banned for cheating.
    It has been proven that the pokies set off the same neural transmitters as methamphetamine, yet we licence them in every pub, bar bistro as we can. The revenue from these is astounding, all from low socio-economic areas. The amount of wholesalers or off-licences in New Zealand is phenomenal and our drinking issues far exceed any other harm on society. Fast food places pump advertising into kids, most being able to recognise Ronald over jesus. Their staff are exploited while reconstituted food is shoveled to us from drive through windows while obesity remains on of nzs largest killers. Our lottery and scratch and wins are designed to engage the user creating a “game” environment when there is a single number on every card that identifies a win or a loss and the odds are greater than ever. TV ads depicting how it would be to win the lotto with unrealistic lifestyles almost as unrealistic as winning, jackpots draw millions of dollars when you would have a better chance of being killed by a donkey. The taxation taken from cigarettes which is the big drain on the health system apportions only a fraction to the health system. Councils charge GST on rates yes a tax on a tax and it is listed as income to the council but when leaky homes arise that were approved by previous council they accept 25% liability. Supermarkets are designed to push foods to you, fresh produce first means most customers limit their fresh choices so as it not get squashed in the rest of the shopping. Food additives including innocent, riboflavin, sugars carbs good fats bad fats soya, caffeine can be added and mixed around to suit. fat-free mostly means higher carbs as the fats are expressed as sugars. The DV or daily value coding to assist people in making healthy choices requires a master’s degree to understand and a frit desert only requires 5% fruit which can come from pulp and root extract. Babies clothes from china that ignite in front of a heater and baby food with melamine in it and the reason we need free trade with china is to provide low-cost alternatives, i guess it depends on how you measure the cost. as we don’t endorse child labour and will send you to jail for the rest of your life for downloading a movie China openly ignores child labour and sweat shops while so-called cracking down on piracy except for the entire apple store that is fake shown on tv but so long as we cant see it, then there is good reason to eliminate the manufacturing capabilities on NZ. And all this while china openly causes genocide to their neighbouring nation and NZ turns its back
    and so it goes on.
    The damage caused by the aforementioned to nzers do more harm to more people than drugs could ever hope to, and I get your stupid reply’s that well the genie is all ready out of the bottle on those things best keep the war on drug trooping but here is the thing.
    I am responsible enough to dink in moderation, adds on tv tell me so
    I am responsible enough to eat minimal quantities of junk food
    I am responsible enough to drink in a civil manner and get behind the wheel, if i look like i have had too much the bar will be responsible
    I can walk into a casino and on the off-chance I spend too much the casino will care for me
    I am responsible enough to understand what the DV relates to and research healthy choices
    I am responsible enough to research kids formulas and clothing and the stores will help me
    I can purchase ciggies and smoke, but the ads say not to
    I know that lotto pokies and scratch and wins are deliberately addictive and so even though the tv ads reenforce the joy I am responsible enough to resist

    However if I wish to smoke a joint in the privacy of my own home, grown by myself the government needs to step in and legislate because i am not responsible enough to choose for myself.

    Quite frankly I am horrified at NZ apathy we are all earning too much to take time to stand up, well that time is coming we have far greater problems than drugs.
    statistically there is no increase in users if drugs are legal, illegal or restricted the cost of educating and providing quality products with a controlled distribution would eliminate the reasons some idiots want to go to war

  3. I agree – except for the moralistic judgement that the “best lifestyle is a drug free lifestyle”. That kind of reasoning results in the puritanical drug law we already have.

    Caffeine and alcohol are drugs, so is chocolate. Drugs also help medical conditions.

  4. I think at least one of the comments on this page.. is commenting on the wrong issue ? Mis-use of drugs or Student union membership ??

  5. Danyl and others who support compulsory union membership are (unwittingly?) running contrary to any idea of social justice. For social justive, one must be free, but their idea is to compell association in order to better oneslef or particip[ate in what most educator consider e public good: If education is a public good, why should their be (restricting and compulsion-based) fish-hooks associated with it.

    I suspect that Danyl and co would be outraged should someone advocvate (say) that all those seeking to attend an Earth Summit must also buy shares in Mobil/Shell (which you could always then sell, to continue Danyl’s argument that one can ‘opt out’), or that in order to cycle to work they must buy a bus fare.

    Compuslory union membership is (fortunately) an anacronism of a bygone conflict class-based adversiral age, and has no place in a civil or socialy just society

  6. James Jenkins via FaeceBook:
    “So freedom of association for students, something every other Kiwi enjoys is “mad, bad and ugly”….righto.”

    This is a red herring, and typical of the propaganda that the anti-student-union movement puts about. Students can choose to resign from their student union, so they already have freedom of association. In some cases they can even get their union fees back.

    Even where they can’t get a refund, the services and benefits they can access on campus *even as non-members* would cost many times the value of an annual union membership, if provided as commercial services. Of course those looking to profit from providing such services have an interest in propagating the kind of rhetoric James injects here. Anyone who thinks abolishing universal membership of student unions needs to look at the experience of Waikato uni in the 90s.

  7. I think we ought to lobby govt to ban water and water based activities, After all, 87 prople died from drowning last year alone. Similarly, there were over 300 road deaths last year, so we need to ban cars too! Think of the children!!

  8. are they taking suggestions,or is it a closed shop,can we put forward other concerns of proven safety issues,im a little concerned about mercury in vaccines,and the use of 100% gluten to bind meds for a start,

  9. Yes, whats next on his list.. chocolate ?
    Whatever happended to ‘freedom of choice’ ?
    What I put in my body (as an adult) should be my decision & reponsibility. I thought this Govt. was moving away from the ‘granny state’ ! Kia-ora

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