Govt stance on drug laws taking 'compassionate' view

Govt stance on drug laws taking 'compassionate' view

The Government is considering a more "compassionate" approach when it comes to minor drug offences.

It comes as international medical journal The Lancet claims the current approach to drug offending is all wrong and it's done more harm than good.

The report, which will go to the United Nations next month, says the 'War on Drugs' over the past half-century hasn't worked and recommends non-violent minor drug offences need to be decriminalised.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne says he didn't see any "immediate changes" to the Misuse of Drugs Act coming, but work was being done on a number of fronts, including the relevance of legislation regarding drug paraphernalia and utensils.

"I think the drug utensil rules are somewhat outmoded already. I've used an example previously of people coming from the Middle East coming with hookah pipes suddenly find they're caught up by New Zealand drug laws -- never intended," Mr Dunne says.

"So we need to make sure the law is fit-for-purpose. In other areas it will be seeing what the effective balance between the law and the health system is and how we achieve that."

Mr Dunne says the country is taking a more compassionate approach -- dealing with issues on health grounds, focusing on those affected rather than relying on the "legal fall-back".

In terms of decriminalisation of cannabis, Mr Dunne said that wasn't up for consideration and there's no political party saying it should be legalised.

Green Party health spokesman Kevin Hague says the party is offering to work with others on evidence-based drug law reform.

"It is fantastic to hear that the Government is considering regulating drugs in terms of their potential for harm," Mr Hague says.

"It is time for New Zealand to ditch its outdated drug laws, and for Parliament to work together to come up with a new regime that will work to reduce the harm of drugs."

He believes the war on drugs has been a "complete failure" if the aim was to decrease harm and supply.