Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Back in the late 1990's, National MP Roger Sowry was the Associate Minister for Health who launched NZ's first National Drug Policy. The document was partly a response to NGO pressure groups, from drug counsellors through to NORML NZ, hassling for a more mature policy framework to deal with NZ's love of drugs than just the blunt tools of the Misuse of Drugs Act and the liquor laws.

This comprehensive document was reviewed in the 2000's, when Jim Anderton put his spin on it. John Key's government has finally got around to reviewing the National Drug Policy, presumably under the guidance of Associate Minister for Health Todd McClay.

A discussion document has been released seeking feedback on the latest incarnation of the National Drug Policy. This paper is notable for two things. Firstly, it doesn't once mention cannabis. There's no mention at all of the global legalisation trends.

Secondly, there is a not so subtle swing away from addressing direct drug harms:
Traditionally, the NDP mostly focused on minimising harm to the users of alcohol and drugs, by controlling drug supply, dissuading use and providing users with access to treatment.
However, families, communities and society are also impacted by these substances and the children of drug users are at greater risk of growing up to become drug users themselves.  Breaking this intergenerational cycle requires a whole-of-system response, including an emphasis on how whānau, communities and settings such as schools can be supported to minimise drug-related harm.
You see what they did there? Adult drug use is now all about the kids.

The Greens' Jan Logie points to a similar hollowing out of intents with protection orders by National as well:
This government has shifted the focus from domestic violence to vulnerable children despite domestic violence being one of the most significant risks for children in NZ.

Domestic Violence was not mentioned once in the white paper, despite a large number of submissions raising this issue. There is nothing in the legislation to progress our response to Domestic Violence. In fact it may well move resources away from domestic violence.
It looks a hell of a lot like sweeping problems under carpets. And if Colin Craig becomes Minister for Families and brings back the belt, the return to the 1950's pavlova paradise will be complete.