NZ drug laws 'step towards legalising cannabis'

New Zealand's "breakthrough" synthetic drug law could be a step towards the country legalising cannabis, a US drug reformer says.

Drug Policy Alliance executive director Ethan Nadelmann, who has been described as America's leading marijuana legalisation campaigner, will discuss cannabis law reform and the regulation of legal highs in Auckland this week.

He is the keynote speaker at the Pathway to Reform conference on Thursday, which is being hosted by synthetic drug industry group the Star Trust.

Dr Nadelmann said New Zealand's synthetic drug law, the Psychoactive Substances Act, was a global "breakthrough" in drug legislation.

No other government had set up a regulatory process to potentially approve synthetic drugs if their safety could be established, he said.

"I think there was something profoundly pragmatic about what New Zealand did and the ways in which the grey market industry and the Government collaborated to set up this process.

"I think it's a credit to New Zealand because essentially what people did, as I see it, is they focussed on the bottom line, which is safety.

"When a growing number of people are using these drugs, you've got to make sure they come home safely at the end of the night and don't end up getting hurt and grow up into healthy adults."

Dr Nadelmann said there would be "virtually no market" for synthetic cannabis if marijuana was legal - and prohibition had pushed people towards potentially more dangerous synthetic alternatives.

He said the synthetic drug law could help revive debate in New Zealand about cannabis law reform - a conversation which had "faded" while the debate over legal highs took over.

"That spirit of pragmatism can be contagious, and one can well imagine that it would result in people, including legislators, being willing to ask the same sorts of questions regarding other illegal drugs.

"For example, has marijuana prohibition really proven successful? Has it really protected young people in our country?

"Is it possible - which is the conversation they're having in the US now - that a responsible public health approach to legal marijuana will actually do more to reduce crime and protect young people?"

The conversation in New Zealand could also be influenced by the legalisation of cannabis in the US states of Colorado and Washington, Dr Nadelmann said.

"I think that this change is stimulating and informing a global dialogue about changing marijuana policies, and I think that it will have that impact in New Zealand."

The Pathway to Reform is a full-day conference, discussing the future of moving from drug restriction to regulation. International experts from Canada, USA, UK, and other countries will speak at the conference.


Pot and tobacco least of the world's worries

Waiting for your car to warm up in the morning before work burns more toxic gases than a cigarette smoker could burn off all day? Do you drive because I don't smoke, does that mean no log burners either? What's up with all the ban wagons in this country? Pot smokers stay at home and more often than not so do cigarette smokers in this day. Your driving a heavy piece of machinery that could easily wipe out a crowd of people if you forgot to check your tyre tread depth or brakes, driving round burning toxic gases that are destroying our ozone, and at least smoke is natural helping to strengthen our ozone, not like the burn of it takes to make plastics or drive your car? this world was catching fire long before we were here trees marajuana and tobacco all burning, People are just judgemental and controlling. I'd rather we have no cars no houses and live in the bush, and leave each other alone for once? But the world's not perfect.

Spiked Black Market marijuana

Well said, Aaron. Time to decriminalise uncontaminated cannabis and regulate supply. First, pot the gangs lacing product.

People are the problem

Compare alcohol to pot and watch all the high horse close minded people clutch their bottles of poison. Even tho the proof is hitting everyone on the face regularly. Innocent familyies killed on the road by drunk drivers every year, domestic violence, rehab centers that tax payers have to pay for even if they're dead against consumption of alcohol? I've lost friends and family to alcoholism. But to be honest I've also lost a brother to marijuana, he was very intelligent, could do amazing things physically and mentally, but he suffered from ADHD, I don't smoke pot but when he was under the influence he could relax, focus, eat properly and sleep.

But because marijuana is in the hands of gangs instead of a clean product being provided legally by our own government my brother died because gang members forced pot sellers to sell their pot which was laced with P. the people and representers of this country decided a product far less dangerous than alcohol or even "table salt" as stupid as it sounds should remain unjustly criminalised? And marijuana has actually been proven to provide many health benefits???

What's going on? The people of this country have let my brother and my family down. If you can let me know of a problem that the legalisation of marijuana could have on the general public of this country in comparison to alcohol then let me know. 


Cannabis much worse than cigarettes

I agree with Carleeee. It's puzzling that many progressive people want to legalise cannabis but at the same time want to ban cigarettes. An Otago study shows conclusively marijuana reduces IQs in teenagers so is far more insidious than cigarettes.

Smokefree NZ?

I wonder where these changes fit in with the Government's plan for a smoke-free New Zealand?
The squeaky wheel gets the oil...stop changing laws just because people keep nagging.

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