The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) welcomes the successful passing of Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill through parliament, by the New Zealand Government.
The bill focuses on the issue of synthetic drugs as a health issue, rather than law and order. The change in the law will now enable police to exercise discretion about whether to prosecute or refer individuals to addiction services.
Chair of the New Zealand Faculty of Addiction Psychiatry Subcommittee, Dr Susanna Galea-Singer praised the passing of the bill, as it acknowledges and allows for addiction treatment, rather than incarceration.
‘Now, as we’d hoped, AMB-FUBINACA and 5F-ADB will be treated as Class A drugs and legislation will support the adoption, whenever possible, of a health-centred, therapeutic approach to a person misusing these drugs,’ said Dr Susanna Galea-Singer.
‘We had been concerned that previous legislation did not protect the public nor provide for their care when, increasingly often, people presented to health services with serious side effects or mental illnesses after using synthetic compounds. Last year 45 deaths were attributed to these substances.
‘Of course, after changing legislation, the critical next step is ensuring appropriate, well-resourced treatment is in place – with all that entails.’
Dr Galea-Singer continued that treatment must be culturally competent, evidence-based, and delivered by the right people in the right places.
‘It’s right to offer health rather than criminal penalties. By working together and supporting our most vulnerable, we can benefit as a society.’
For all other expert mental health information visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.
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