After a year of not holding my breath I'll continue to not hold my breath - Tactical Ninja
May. 4th, 2011
10:40 am - After a year of not holding my breath I'll continue to not hold my breath
This morning I saw a picture of a kid wearing 'patriotic' face paint - a USA flag, the letters USA, and the date 5-1-11. While the whole thing makes me go O.o, the date really struck me. I am hoping that my birthday doesn't end up being 'the day Bin Laden was killed' forever. Especially since this year Joel's birthday was marred by the earthquake in Japan.
I guess it's a bit unrealistic to expect to get through life without something globally relevant happening on your birthday, but really? People Dancing In The Streets Because Of A Death Day? No thanks.
OK, remember last year, in the dark ages by internet standards, submissions on the Law Commission's review of the Misuse of Drugs Act were due on April 30th? Well, yesterday they released their report.
It's exciting in a way. The Law Commission's report demonstrates that they have done a reasonable job of balancing evidence against the perception that all drug use is bad and the prevailing viewpoint that what is currently illegal should stay illegal. Full copies of the reports can be found here - it's in two parts.
I haven't read the whole thing yet (essay due next week), and I certainly doubt everyone here is as interested as I am, so I'll sum up the salient points for you:
- Repealing the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 and replacing it with a new Act administered by the Ministry of Health.
- Reviewing the classification system to ensure it is consistent with evidence of harm. (Tats in: this stems from a discussion about the potential reclassification of LSD in their briefing from the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs. It appears to be misclassified and the boffins have noticed. Tats out)
- Introducing a cautioning system followed by compulsory intervention for personal use and possession, with a presumption of non-imprisonment in sentencing of repeat offenders.
- Presumption of non-imprisonment for 'social supply' (people who procure drugs for their friends and do not profit from it).
- Regulation of new substances including requirement for the substance to be tested and to meet legal criteria before being available for sale.
- Separate funding available specifically for compulsory drug treatment programmes through the justice system.
There's more, but that will do for now. To me, this seems like a very large step in moving personal drug use and misuse from the 'crime' department to the 'health' department. In my opinion, treating drug misuse as a health issue will have much more success in reducing actual harm than simply punishing people.
However, the police disagree, saying that differentiating between social supply and dealing may prove difficult and that people may use 'social supply' as a cover for actual dealing. To which I think "Isn't it the job of the police to determine the difference between receiving stolen property and fencing? And to discover whether a person is profiting from other types of crime?" I know that the proceeds of crime are a large part of investigations - we have a whole Act dedicated to it. And you'd think that by passing the majority of drug use associated work on to the Ministry of Health, it'd free up time for doing that sort of police work. Hmm..
I'm also aware of the way in which Minister of Justice Simon Power dismissed the suggestions out of hand when they first came out, claiming that being hard on drugs is a key part of the current government's stance.
So I'm not holding my breath for this report to make any real difference. Yet another case of the evidence and advice of experts being ignored in favour of disproven ideology.
Also, Bob McCroskie said something. It's not worth linking to and reflects the usual stuff you'd expect to hear from someone who places 'family values' above human rights, evidence, or practical policy.
Meanwhile, my job just got exciting again. And Anonymous did indeed take down NZ's parliamentary website. Oddly it was barely reported in the media. Funny that.