MP wants tougher sentences for synthetic drug dealers

You can have your say on his Bill now in Parliament

Simone Brown

Since being elected to Parliament in September last year, I have had the opportunity to work on many different issues relevant to our community.

One such issue is addressing the harm caused by Psychoactive Drugs in our community.

I am pleased that I have been able to progress through Parliament a Bill calling for an increase in the maximum sentences for those found guilty of dealing synthetic drugs.

Cracking down on supply

My Bill aims at cracking down on the supply of psychoactive substances, which are becoming more and more harmful, and in many cases, deadly.

It proposes to increase the maximum prison sentence for those caught dealing synthetic drugs from two years to eight years, and the reason for this is simple.

These synthetic products are much more potent than what was available when the original regulations and penalties were put in place in 2013, and they now need to be stricter to deter people from producing and supplying them in our communities.

The increase in prison time would bring synthetic drugs in line with those designated as “Class C” drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act, placing them alongside other deadly substances like methamphetamine.

Support for Inquiry

It is important to note that this legislation is designed to target suppliers, not users, and this is why I launched a petition alongside my Bill asking Parliament to establish a formal enquiry into the support available for those who suffer from addiction to these drugs.

This petition has garnered over 1000 signatures, and it is an issue I will continue to champion long after my Bill has passed through the House.

Those who suffer from addiction to synthetic drugs need more support.

As a society, we need to place greater emphasis on supporting those who are addicted, whilst cracking down on those who target them.

I have spent many months talking with a lot of different people about this issue, including members of my local Indian community, and have been heartened by their encouragement and support for my Bill.

A sad story

I have also spoken on a regular basis with the parents of Calum Jones, a 22-year old father, who died last year after battling an addiction to synthetic drugs.

The most tragic aspect of Calum’s story is that he was getting help and getting clean. Having fought his addiction for a long time, he was just days out of rehab before being pressured into relapsing, which then took his life.

Texts found on his phone after his death showed that, since leaving rehab and being clean for six weeks, he had been hounded for days by his former dealer who clearly had no regard for his health or wellbeing.

I cannot begin to imagine the pain Calum’s family feels knowing he was almost free of these demons, only to be foiled by someone interested in making a quick buck and taking advantage of the vulnerability of others.

This is the very reason why I submitted this Bill to Parliament in the first place.

It is not a case of users or victims needing to be punished, it is about ensuring that those who supply and distribute these drugs understand the gravity of the consequences and be adequately deterred.

Public submission

Since passing its First Reading in March, my Bill has been open for public submission which closed on May 4, 2018.

Even though you are no longer able to make a formal submission, I hope many of you reading this will get in touch to express your views on my Bill.

You can do this by emailing me at PakurangaMP@parliament.govt.nz

I look forward to hearing from you.

Simeon Brown is Member of Parliament elected from Pakuranga. He belongs to National Party.

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