People who make or supply synthetic drugs face life in prison under changes announced by the Government today.
Police Minister Stuart Nash and Health Minister David Clark announced that two compounds found in most synthetics – AMB Fubinaca and 5FABD – will be reclassified as Class A drugs, attracting a maximum penalty of life in prison for manufacture and supply.
A new classification, Class C1, will be created to give police greater search and seizure powers for other new and emerging drugs. It is essentially a holding classification before those drugs are then made Class A.
The move is part of a two-pronged approach to stop those “peddling in death in our communities”, according to Nash – cracking down on makers and suppliers but treating drug use as a health issue rather than a criminal issue.
Police will be told to use more discretion when dealing with people caught using the drugs.
That approach will also be extended to users of all illegal drugs, but Clark and Nash denied it was “decriminalisation by stealth”.
Nash said 52 people had died this year alone from using synthetics, which are often laced with poisonous chemicals.
“Under current laws synthetics and other dangerous drugs are killing people and fuelling crime while dealers and manufacturers get rich. The current approach is failing to keep Kiwis safe and can’t be continued,” Clark said.
“It’s time to do what will work. We need to go harder on the manufacturers of dangerous drugs like synthetics, and treat the use of drugs as a health issue by removing barriers to people seeking help.”
The measures announced today are:
• Reclassifying the two main ingredients found in synthetics linked to recent deaths – AMB Fubinaca and 5FABD – as class A drugs
• Creating a temporary C1 classification for new and emerging drugs to give police greater search and seizure powers