A more sensible drugs policy

The Law Commission has completed its report reviewing our drug laws. Their key proposals include:

  • A mandatory cautioning scheme for all personal possession and use offences that come to the attention of the police
  • Removing minor drug offenders from the criminal justice system and providing greater opportunities for those in need of treatment to access it.
  • A full scale review of the current drug classification system which is used to determine restrictiveness of controls and severity of penalties, addressing existing inconsistencies and focusing solely on assessing a drug’s risk of harm, including social harm.
  • Making separate funding available for the treatment of offenders through the justice sector to support courts when they impose rehabilitative sentences to address alcohol and drug dependence problems;
  • Consideration of a pilot drug court, allowing the government to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of deferring sentencing of  some  offenders until they had undergone court-imposed alcohol and/or drug treatment

I think the Law Commission’s proposals are very sound, and they are not a “soft line on drugs“, as Stuff says.

Giving people a criminal record over a one time possession of small amounts of cannabis is silly, considering arund half the adult population have smoked cannabis. I’m not one of them incidentially.

I hope the Government does not reject this report knee-jerk, and doesn’t rule out any changes which might lead to better outcomes for New Zealand and New Zealanders. The proposed warning system for drug use provides good incentives for people to stop.

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