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Submissions to the Health Select Committee today made clear that the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill is de facto decriminalisation of all drug possession, National Spokesperson for Drug Reform Paula Bennett says.

“Submissions on the Bill confirmed National’s assertion that it is an attempt to sneakily decriminalise all drugs. New Zealand Law Society Criminal Law Committee representative Chris Macklin told the committee that he ‘couldn’t foresee any prosecutions being taken for drug possession if this law was passed’.

“The New Zealand Police Association President Chris Cahill said that it would effectively mean ‘compulsory discretion’ for officers and said that it goes ‘too far’.

“National are firm believers in both greater rehabilitation and tougher sentences. Treatment and deterrence should go hand in hand when it comes to drug use.

“New Zealand Drug Foundation Executive Director Ross Bell told the Health Select Committee he could not think of a single drug user that would not benefit from a therapeutic approach.

“The Government says it’s putting the legalisation of cannabis to the public in a referendum, yet at the same time it has introduced a Bill that says Police should not prosecute anyone in possession of all drugs, including P and heroin.

“Decriminalising the possession and use of hard drugs is a serious decision and needs thoughtful discussion and debate, but the Government is trying to bypass this important step.

“The Government need to front up on what their intentions are and have this important conversation with the public.”

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