Revealed: National stalling its own synthetics Bill in bid to force Government to act

Newshub can reveal National's stalling on its synthetics Bill in an attempt to force the Government to crack down on the deadly drugs.

Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown's postponed his Psychoactive Substances Amendment Bill from being voted on in Parliament.

The proposed legislation would increase sentences for individuals supplying psychoactive substances, like synthetic cannabis, from two years in prison to a maximum of 14.

New Zealand First supported the legislation through its first and second reading in Parliament.

It was due to be read for the third and final time, but Mr Brown hit pause because he thinks the Government's dropped the ball.

"I'm going to be delaying my Bill, which increases penalties, because it's only going be voted down," he said. "It's the only option currently before Parliament to address this very serious issue."

Simeon Brown sent a letter to David Wilson, Clerk of the House of Representatives, announcing his intention to postpone the Bill's third reading.
Simeon Brown sent a letter to David Wilson, Clerk of the House of Representatives, announcing his intention to postpone the Bill's third reading. Photo credit: Supplied

Mr Brown says his proposed law is the option that can make change now and thinks halting it will draw attention to the Government's inaction.

"It's almost three months since the Government announced it was going to take the issue of synthetic drugs seriously. Since then we haven't seen them do anything," he explained.

"They haven't classified two of those substances Class A like they said they would, they haven't brought any legislation towards Parliament.

In December 2018, the Government announced it would implement a "suite of measures to tackle synthetic drugs".

Here's what that looked like:

  • Classifying the main two synthetic drugs 5F-ADB and AMB-FUBINACA Class A.
  • Creating a temporary drug classification category, C1, so new drugs can be brought under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
  • Amending the Misuse of Drugs Act to specify in law that Police should use their discretion and not prosecute for possession and personal use where a therapeutic approach would be more beneficial.
  • Allocate $16.6 million to boost community addiction treatment services.

NZ First MP Darroch Ball told Newshub at the time that the announcement effectively made Simeon Brown's Bill dead in the water.

A Government spokesperson told Newshub much of the changes require amendments to legislation. These amendments will be tabled in due course.

But Mr Brown says nothing has been done.

"I'm calling on the Government to take it seriously, to follow through with what they did, not just vote down my piece of legislation which will do what they've said they'll do, which is increasing penalties for suppliers of these very dangerous drugs."

A Coronial Services spokesperson told Newshub between 60-65 people have died from synthetic drugs since June 1, 2017.

"There are also a number of deaths where while synthetic cannabis contributed to the death, synthetic cannabis toxicity was not the ultimate cause of death."