More than 150 experts sign open letter calling on Government to legalise all drugs

More than 150 experts have signed an open letter to the Government calling for the legalisation of all drugs in New Zealand.  

Harm Reduction Coalition Aotearoa (HRCA) presented the letter on Tuesday, calling on Prime Minister Christopher Luxon to end drug prohibition and legalise all drugs.  

The letter includes 155 signatures from experts in drug policy and criminology including professors, academics, researchers, clinicians and health professionals.  

HRCA, an independent organisation which launched on Tuesday, is calling for a new "fit-for-purpose drug law".  

Founding member of HRCA Wendy Allison was instrumental in bringing drug checking to New Zealand.  

"It is clear that the Misuse of Drugs Act is not fit for purpose," she said in a statement.  

"After 50 years it has failed to reduce drug use or drug harm. In fact, every problem we have around drugs in Aotearoa has developed under prohibition."  

She said she believes the country deserves better, and "it's time for a new approach".   

HRCA chair Lachlan Akers added to the statement, saying a new drug law would "benefit our society as a whole".  

"It's time to stop funding criminal organisations by letting them control New Zealand's drug market. We need to end prohibition to prioritise the health and wellbeing of people who use drugs," he said.   

In the letter, HRCA calls for the "failed and damaging prohibitionist drug laws" to be rescinded and replaced by a new Psychoactive Drugs Act that would legally regulate the supply of all psychoactive drugs.  

"It's time to chart a new pathway forward - one guided by compassion, science, evidence, experience and human rights," the letter reads.  

"Aotearoa New Zealand has the opportunity to be a world leader with transformative, fit for purpose, evidence-based drug laws.  

"Together we can build a more just, humane and coherent approach to legal and illegal drug use in Aotearoa New Zealand."                                           

Signatures include those from eight professors, 31 doctors, 29 organisations and supported by experts from 14 countries across North America, South America, South Africa, Europe and Australasia.   

Health Minister Shane Reti has been asked for comment.