Newsbrief: New Zealand to War on "Evil" Meth 5/30/03

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Facing growing methamphetamine use and a press frenzy over meth-related crime, the government of New Zealand released its Methamphetamine Action Plan on May 21, making those convicted of importing or manufacturing speed subject to life imprisonment beginning today (May 30). The 19-point plan also includes demand reduction, harm reduction and treatment, but in both emphasis and spending is weighted towards law enforcement.

As of today, methamphetamine is a Class A drug in New Zealand, with possession now punishable by up to six months in jail and conspiracy to manufacture or distribute punishable by up to 14 years in prison. Law enforcement will also get additional powers to conduct searches and seizures under the plan.

"There is a zero tolerance approach by the government to this," said Allen Anderton, chairman of the Ministerial Action Group on Alcohol and Drugs. "We just consider it an outrageously dangerous drug, and those who engage in it are engaging in a substance of evil." But Anderton, who told the New Zealand Herald his visit last week with American rap star Coolio -- whose credentials as a substance abuse expert are unclear -- reinforced his sense of urgency, added that he didn't want to punish those involved with evil. "We are not really after punishment for those who are victims, but we want to help them, their families and communities."

Under the plan, the government will spend $2.55 (New Zealand) million a year on prevention and $620,000 for a pilot treatment program, as well as $150,000 a year for a drug information analyst. But Customs will get $1.9 million a year to hire 16 drug investigators and intelligence analysts, and another $15 to $25 million for special x-ray technology, while police will get $1.65 million additional a year for special meth lab clean-up teams.

The measure was supported by New Zealand's leading advocate of marijuana legalization, Green Party Member of Parliament Nandor Tanczos.

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Issue #289, 5/30/03 Editorial: For Decency's Sake, No More No-Knock Drug Raids | Canadian Government Introduces Cannabis Decriminalization Bill | Ed Rosenthal to be Sentenced Wednesday -- Could Escape Mandatory Minimum as Pleas for Leniency Roll In, Supporters Prepare to Rally | DRCNet Book Review: "Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use," by Jacob Sullum (Tarcher & Putnam, 24.95 HB) | Democratic Presidential Contender Endorses Medical Marijuana -- Ohio's Kucinich First Out of the Gate | Saying Yes: New Book Offer from DRCNet | Action Alerts: Medical Marijuana, HEA Drug Provision, Global Legalization and Drug Treaty Reform Petition | Newsbrief: NYPD Under Fire in Death of Woman in Botched Drug Raid | Newsbrief: Federal Hepatitis C Control and Prevention Bill Filed | Newsbrief: Mississippi Drug Czar Not One to Let the Law Get in His Way | Newsbrief: The Hash Fields of Morocco | Newsbrief: Dutch Coffee Shops Take Hit in Anti-Tobacco Campaign | Newsbrief: New Zealand to War on Evil Meth | Newsbrief: Garcia Marquez Takes Back His Legalization Comments, Sort Of | Newsbrief: Gambian Narcs Mar Marley Remembrance with Raids | Newsbrief: Japanese Author, Legalization Advocate Gets Suspended Sentence for Marijuana Possession | Reflections Seeking Submissions for Special Issue on Prison | The Reformer's Calendar

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