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Early in 2008 is the earliest that BZP can now be banned.
The Bill to classify BZP as a Class C1 drug will not now be passed until early in the new year, Associate Minister of Health Jim Anderton said today.
The Misuse of Drugs (Classification of BZP) Amendment Bill was introduced on 11 September following expert advice that the drug poses a moderate risk of harm. The bill will make the sale of so-called 'party pills' unlawful. It bans possession of them after a six month amnesty.
Jim Anderton says the Bill can't be passed before Christmas because the Green Party wouldn't agree to urgency to pass Bills it doesn't support.
"I have just this week been given disturbing evidence of a commercial party pill supplier promoting BZP party pills to a fourteen year old with lollipops, t-shirts, badges, hats and an invitation to a 'VIP' party where party pills and alcohol would be given away free."
A letter to Jim Anderton from the parent of a fourteen year old says:
"One of the salespeople offered my teenager a free lollipop if she signed up to join the [name of shop removed] club. She was reluctant to do this but said that they were very persuasive. She was persuaded to fill in a form, which includes date of birth, and later received [an attached] email invitation to a .VIP night where free party pills and alcohol would be available. You will notice the invitation encourages the recipient to ask their friends to sign up."
Jim Anderton has asked Ministry of Health officials for advice on referring the case to police. He says the supply of BZP to under-18 year olds is already illegal.
"But if the drug cannot legally be sold to anyone, they won't be brazenly attracting teenagers with lollipops and 'VIP' events.
"The Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs looked at the scientific evidence and recommended the Government make benzylpiperazine (BZP), phenylpiperazines and related piperazines, common ingredients in 'party pills', illegal because of the risk of harm.
"Unfortunately that won't now be possible until the new year because the Green Party has declined to allow the Bill to proceed under urgency before Christmas.
"I wanted to see these products illegal in the hands of manufacturers and retailers by Christmas. I wanted to remove the cause of possible harm from, particularly, young New Zealanders during the holiday season," Jim Anderton said.