UNGASS Special Segment Day 1 – Statement by New Zealand

This is my 5th visit to participate at CND, highlighting New Zealand’s interest.

Innovation is of particular relevance for the 2016 UNGASS. Next year’s session comes at an important time, with an increasing level of NPS. New Zealand has not been immune to this trend. Dedicated legislation in New Zealand has been adopted – the Psychoactive Substance Act was passed in 2013, and amended in 2014 to ban all pre-approved substances, and around animal testing. Beside these, the act remains intact and New Zealand believes that NPS that are safe should be permitted for sale. New Zealand has been innovative, and this innovation is key here.

A focus on addressing supply issues should not come at the cost of drug consumption harms. Overly punitive responses don’t do anything to address the harms related to drug use. A more compassionate approach to deal with drug related issues would be best. We must continue to move away from a rigid law response.

Last year’s CND was a shift towards a strong health focus. The last 18 months have seen a resurgence in the visibility of cannabis at both federal and state levels. We receive numerous correspondence to move toward legalisation. Cannabis, I am told, are the panacea for certain ailments. I have sympathy for these people and I have asked my colleagues to look into the medical cannabis issue – but based on the evidence provided to me, I have grave concerns around medical cannabis. Children are given false hope about improved quality of life, this is irresponsible and undesirable.

I reiterate that innovation, compassion are necessary. A robust evidence based approach is necessary for the 2016 UNGASS.

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