Two airmen face court martial over drugs charges

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has confirmed a court martial will be held for two personnel on drugs charges.

The two airmen are facing multiple charges of supply and consumption of drugs. The court martial will sit on 18 February at Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Ohakea.

In 2016, Newshub revealed an average of two Defence Force personnel were being investigated for drug offences every month.

In an interview at the time, Defence Force Surgeon General Brigadier Andrew Grey denied the problem is out of control.

"I do not think we have a significant problem," he told Newshub.

"What we are looking at from a health perspective is how we can prevent misuse of any substance and how we can help our people."

In the aftermath, the Defence Force brought the Drug Foundation on board to investigate its policy discrepancies around controlled substances and report on a way forward.

It found current policies aren't working and were too "enforcement" based.

Some interviewed felt random drug testing was "targeted" with some staff "protected" from being caught.

Others believed "raising a drug problem" was a one-way ticket to being discharged and they couldn't ask for help.

"There is a heavy reliance on a punishment approach and we've argued their needs to be a more balanced approach," the NZ Drug Foundation's Ross Bell said at the time.

"There is a risk in having that very staunch, zero tolerant message being sent out there, that if there is a young person in the Defence Force who has a problem, are they going to be afraid to seek help?"

Mr Bell believes drugs will likely always be within the NZDF given the age of most of the people who enrol.

"If you look at the age most people go into the Defence Force, they're attracting people between the ages of 18 and 25 - and that's the age where a lot of experimentation is going to happen," Mr Bell said.


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