Another eventful few weeks in drug policy.

Perhaps the major international event last week was the New Zealand parliament passing (by 119 votes to 1) the Psychoactive Substances Bill

McLay’s opening remarks were:

I move, That the Psychoactive Substances Bill be now read a third time. It is my hope that today we take a very significant step to protect New Zealanders, particularly young New Zealanders, from the harm caused by untested drugs and an unregulated market. The Government’s position is clear, as I believe this House’s is. No one will be allowed to sell psychoactive products unless it can be shown that those products pose no more than a low risk of harm. Passing this bill will ensure that these products cannot be sold to children, that they cannot be sold from dairies, and that there are robust controls on what is in them and how they can be marketed.

These are exactly the arguments that drug law reformers have been making for years. McLay was right to argue that the critical issue is the presence of untested drugs in an unregulated market.

Another lesson from this event is that successful drug law reform usually requires bipartisan support.

NZ has a long and impressive history of international trail blazing to which can now be added starting to regulate the unregulated drug market


A Current Affair (Channel Nine) has a large audience. A recent edition focused on community protests about the location of a methadone clinic in Western Sydney.

But surely health services have to go somewhere? So too do police stations and fire stations. Few are ecstatic about living next door to any of these services. Would the neighbours prefer that the people now much more stable on Opioid Substitution Treatment were still just injecting street heroin? Would it make any difference to the critics if the person now much more stable on Opioid Substitution Treatment was a son or a daughter, a father or a mother, a brother or a sister of the person who wants the clinic moved?