Those backing the continued sale of BZP did not have the best interest of New Zealand at heart, Associate Health Minister and Progressive Party leader Jim Anderton said today.
Jim Anderton said the decision to legislate against BZP-based party pills was taken after recommendations by the Experts Advisory Committee on Drugs to do so.
“It’s not me being a killjoy and inflicting my choices on the country. This is the determination of expert toxicologists, doctors, and other specialists who see this drug as a real danger, particularly to our young people. Why do some people want others to die before we do anything?”
As for the argument that classification of drugs did nothing to affect supply and consumption, that was not borne out by the evidence, Jim Anderton said.
“GHB or fantasy was classified from June 2002, and now its use has dropped from 0.8 per cent of the population aged 15 to 45 years to 0.3 per cent. The number of overdoses of GHB cases at Auckland Hospital dropped from 163 people in 2002 to 85 in 2004.
“Classification stopped a significant increase in use as it came into place shortly after a number of businesses started to really market GHB. It is likely that the casual users who were beginning to use it in 2001/02 are not now using as it is not easy to get hold of as it was prior to classification.
“Indeed, a large number of BZP users have noted in various surveys that one of the main attractions of BZP use to them is that it is legal, cheap and easily accessible. Expert advice I have received is that BZP is not a 'good value' drug, that is, it is its ease of access and low price that is its attraction, not its effectiveness as a drug. For that reason, a large number of people are not likely to continue to seek it once it is harder to get.”
Jim Anderton said he was disappointed the Green Party continued to vote against the bill.
“This is a party that wants to ban pies and CocaCola from schools, and yet is willing to allow harmful drugs to be readily available.”
He said that the move to ban BZP-based party pills had been a long time coming, because of the legislative process, and businesses dealing in those pills know all about the deadlines to the end of manufacture and sale which they would need to meet.
“The umbrella marketing organisation for BZP party pill sellers has acted responsibly, and has told my office that BZP-based party pills will be removed from distribution from Thursday next week (March 20).
“My officials have been working with them to ensure that they are informed every step of the way. In fact, I have communications from the industry thanking me for making the process so smooth. Complaints in the House about short notice are completely out of touch.”