Police officers are worried the Government is asking them to essentially spearhead drug decriminalisation, saying its announcement on synthetic drugs has an air of “drug reform on the fly”.
Police Association president Chris Cahill said while he was pleased two synthetic drugs would be reclassified as Class A and a new drug classification would be created giving police greater powers, there was concern over some aspects of the Government’s announcement.
Health Minister David Clark and Police Minister Stuart Nash today said there would be a crackdown on people who made and supplied the deadly drugs but police would be told to use more discretion when deciding to prosecute people using any illegal drugs, not just synthetics.
“The association supports a greater focus on treatment of drug addiction rather than prosecution. However, there is concern about some aspects of the government announcement,” Cahill said.
“It has an air of drug reform on the fly, rather than a more considered debate and informed legislation. I am worried that by codifying police discretion the Government is potentially asking officers to be the spearhead of decriminalisation. If decriminalisation is what Parliament wants, then that’s what the law should say,” he said in a statement.
The Police Association is quite correct. The Government is trying to shift responsibility for drug law to The Police. This is so they can avoid any accountability as they can see it is all about how Police use their discretion.
Once again we see lazy law making from Labour. What they should so is either pass a law decriminalising or legalising cannabis (as in several US states) or at least have a clear framework for criminalisation such as you only get a criminal record on your third offence, and the first two offences just result in drug counselling.
But just saying “we’ll leave it to Police to decide” is a cop out.