The near 40-year-old Misuse of Drugs Act will be overhauled and
replaced and legislation developed to create a new regime for
currently unregulated psychoactive substances, Associate Health
Minister Peter Dunne said today in delivering the
Government's official response to the Law Commission's report on
The Law Commission report, Controlling and Regulating Drugs: a
Review of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975, was delivered in May and
the Government has since been considering its findings and
In tabling the Government's response in Parliament today, Mr
Dunne said that along with a fundamental overhaul of the Misuse of
Drugs Act it was "clearly unacceptable that psychoactive substances
can be sold without regulatory controls or any assessment of their
The Government has already taken all synthetic cannabinoids such
as Kronic off the market through temporary class drug notices, and
will deliver a permanent legislative solution next year, he
"The legislation we will bring in will reverse the onus of proof
so anyone wishing to sell these products would need to prove they
are safe," he said.
Mr Dunne said that as well as wider legislation to replace the
existing Misuse of Drugs Act, further policy work was still
required on a number of the Law Commission's 144 recommendations
before detailed legislative proposals would be presented to
"These are big issues; they are complex and have consequences
and a long term impact and that impact actually plays out in
peoples' lives with issues like drugs, so it is important that we
take the time to get it right and do not rush things," he said.
"It is clear to the Government that the Misuse of Drugs Act
needs updating and we are in agreement with the Law Commission on
"The current Act was developed nearly 40 years ago at a time
when drugs and their use were very different than they are today
and the argument for a substantive update is clear and
Mr Dunne said it is unlikely that all the Law Commission's
recommendations would find their way into Government policy or
"Officials are evaluating all the recommendations and will
advise the next government on how best to incorporate some of the
key into a new Act to be considered by the incoming Parliament," he
Among the more controversial Law Commission recommendations in
its May report was that clinical trials be conducted into the
medical use of leaf cannabis.
"We are not going with that recommendation. It is the
Government's view that is not its role to initiate clinical trials
on cannabis leaf or any other product or substance.
"If the active ingredient of cannabis is seen as essential or
beneficial for pain relief there are already pharmaceutical forms
of it available that provide measured doses and quality control,"
Mr Dunne said that the Law Commission's recommendations that
specialist drug courts be established was being progressed
separately by Justice Minister Simon Power.
The regulatory impact statement can be found at