A bill banning the manufacture, sale and possession of synthetic highs from Thursday has completed its first and second readings this evening.
The Psychoactive Substances Amendment Bill would end all interim product approvals and no products could be sold until they had been proven to be safe and completed its first reading on a voice vote and MPs immediately moved to the second reading, skipping any select committee consideration.
There would be heavy penalties for making, selling and possess and illegal highs from Thursday.The bill would also restrict the use of animal testing by making any evidence of safety from such trials inadmissible.
During the debate, Mojo Mathers said the Greens had faced a difficult decision on the bill, its MPs supported the bill’s move on animal testing, but feared the bill would create a black market. As a result the Greens would abstain. Kevin Hague said later the Greens were opposed to the interim regime being removed. He said it was far from perfect, but better than the lack of regulation before. Prohibition was the wrong approach and there had been a great deal of misinformation about the current law and its effects, which included reducing the number of products, the number of outlets and the amount of harm.
ACT MP John Banks said events in the House were surreal with MPs less than a year ago keen to legalise drugs that were making some people go mad. Banks was the only MP to oppose the legislation and he said Parliament got it wrong. The original bill had been well intentioned but it was deeply flawed as were the assumptions behind it.
A number of MPs pointed out Banks had only opposed animal testing, and had not spoken against the wider bill, and there had been no general prohibition on synthetics highs prior to last year’s legislation.
NZ First Barbara Stewart said the synthetic highs were a blight and Parliament had made a mistake in allowing them to be sold without proof they were safe and with no use of animals for testing safety.
A number of MPs laid blame on the Government for a rushed process in the original bill and slowness in developing regulations and a regime to deem products to be safe or not.
The bill completed its second reading on a voice vote and the committee stage consideration began with all clauses taken in one debate.
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