You have not done those things you thought you had, Dunne

A few weeks ago, the Associate Minister of Health issued a press release.

Dunne: drug law reversing onus of proof on way

Cabinet has agreed key details of new psychoactive substances drug legislation that will require distributors and producers of party pills and other legal highs to prove they are safe before they can sell them, Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne announced today.

“As promised, we are reversing the onus of proof. If they cannot prove that a product is safe, then it is not going anywhere near the marketplace,” Mr Dunne said.

“The legislation will be introduced to Parliament later this year and be in force by around the middle of next year.

‘In the meantime, the Temporary Class Drug Notices – the holding measure we have successfully put in place – will be rolled over as required so there is no window of opportunity for any banned substances to come back on the market before the permanent law comes in,” he said.

“The new law means the game of ‘catch up’ with the legal highs industry will be over once and for all.

“I have been driving this for a considerable time. …

The proposed legislation has been hailed as “revolutionary” and a “world first” in certain quarters.

‘Revolutionary’ legal high law means state regulated drug market

Kronic-style drugs are expected back on the shelves under the new legal high law being crafted by Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne.

Experts say the law will create one of the world’s first open and regulated recreational drug markets with synthetic cannabis making a return.

The first legal highs will be offered for sale in 2014, based on estimates in papers released by health officials.

Some even tout it as “a back-door way for prohibition to end,” ejaculating “The war on drugs ends here!” Even Peter Dunne says as much.

His office acknowledged it would create a legal drug market.

“That is the absolute intention behind this regime. The problem in the past has been that we had a totally unregulated market with who knows what substances in these products.

“I am quite unapologetic about leading changes that will make things safer for young New Zealanders.”

So Peter Dunne, the arch-Prohibitionist, is going to legalise drugs? If you’re thinking, “Yeah right,” you’re right. Something’s not quite right here. Can you smell a baboon’s backside?

I’m going to take a closer look at what Dunne’s up to soon. In this post, though, I’m going to take a look at Dunne’s track record over the past year or so.

A baboon's backside

Since August last year, Peter Dunne has banned 26 synthetic cannabinoids by issuing Temporary Class Drug Notices. These are published in the New Zealand Gazette, “the official newspaper of the Government of New Zealand.” Here’s an example.

Pursuant to section 4C of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975, I give notice that the following substances are classified as temporary class drugs:
This notice will take effect on 13 July 2012 and will expire on 13 July 2013, unless cancelled or renewed as specified in section 4E of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.
Dated at Wellington this 2nd day of July 2012.
HON PETER DUNNE, Associate Minister of Health.

The legislation enabling the issuance of Temporary Class Drug Notices was the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act (No 2) 2011, which became law on 9 August 2011. Let’s take a look at what it says.

4C Temporary class drug notice
(1) The Minister may, by notice in the Gazette, specify any substance, preparation, mixture, or article as a temporary class drug.
(2) The Minister must not give notice under subsection (1) if the substance, preparation, mixture, or article is a Class A controlled drug, a Class B controlled drug, a Class C controlled drug, a precursor substance, or a restricted substance (as defined in section 31 of the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act 2005).
(3) The Minister must not give notice under subsection (1) unless he or she is satisfied that the substance, preparation, mixture, or article that is to be specified in the notice poses, or may pose, a risk of harm to individuals, or to society.
(4) A notice under subsection (1) may describe the substance, preparation, mixture, or article by any 1 or more of the following:
(a) its chemical name, or 1 of its chemical names:
(b) its product name:
(c) a description of the substance, preparation, mixture, or article, in the form that the Minister considers appropriate for the purposes of the notice.
(5) A notice under subsection (1) must state the date on which the notice comes into force.
(6) The date specified under subsection (5) must not be earlier than 7 days after the date of the publication of the notice in the Gazette.

Oops! … Section 4C of the MODA says that the Minister may specify a substance as a temporary class drug. Not the Associate Minister. Just to make sure, let’s take a look at Section 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.

Minister means the Minister of Health

So there you have it. Peter Dunne is NOT the Minister of Health, he’s the Associate Minister of Health. Section 4C does NOT authorise Peter Dunne to ban synthetic cannabinoids! Tony Ryall is the Minister of Health, and he’s banned ONLY one synthetic cannabinoid, viz. AM-2233.

ALL the other synthetic cannabinoids listed here are still legal!


Peter Dunne

[Cross-posted to SOLO.]

8 thoughts on “You have not done those things you thought you had, Dunne”

  1. That really is interesting, and alarming in the precedent this sets. In the entire history of the law of the land, there are now only two areas of law where the burden of proof is turned from the state to the accused: tax, and now this. Utterly no surprise it’s the Minister of Taxing across both departments. I can’t state enough how damaging such a trend is. We have enough innocent people in jail now, imagine if they now bring this over to burglary, murder, et al. And how easy that makes it for the state to get rid of trouble makers.

    Hope you don’t mind if this ends up in one of my own posts down the line.

  2. … Oh, the issue in the details, here, is what’s the threshold for safe? If a substance gives a high, is it safe? … Then spread this out; is alcohol safe? Seems like a lot of uncalled for optimism.

  3. Mark, it’s not news that drug prohibition makes a mockery of criminal law. Peter Dunne is a trend-follower, not a trend-setter! But, yes, it’s a very dangerous trend and it’s no surprise that Peter Dunne is hell-bent on offloading the burden of proof.

    That’s not the only responsibility he’s shirking, either. Stay tuned!

    Hope you don’t mind if this ends up in one of my own posts down the line.

    You know my views on IP, Mark. Copying is fun!

  4. It is interesting to consider that this legislation could end up being a road to the legalisation of Cannabis and many other substances…. Has Dunne made a fatal error?
    The problem he has is that some very toxic substances are legal… Booze and Cigarettes… thus he has opened the way to overthrow the prohibition of substances that prove to be less hazardous than these.
    What he will probably do is commission State ‘research’ which will come up with bogus ‘findings’ which he will then be able to utilize as ‘just cause for rejecting aplications to sell legal highs….

  5. So if that is the case, does that mean that Dunney boy cannot enforce the bann and the ingreds in k2.. are still the banned ones? , cos at the end of the day how would they know any way.. is it being tested at importation? .. who watches this anyway.. If I was to import thru the net.. can I get it thru without a problem?

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