The nearly 40-year-old Misuse of Drugs Act is to be overhauled and replaced by the next Government.
A Law Commission report into the 1975 law in May contained 144 recommendations to the Government.
The Government has today released its response to that report.
Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said the Government agreed with the Commission that the Act needed updating.
"The current Act was developed nearly 40 years ago at a time when drugs and their use were very different than they are today and the argument for a substantive update is clear and compelling.''
However, he said it was unlikely all the Commission's recommendations would be adopted.
Officials would advise the next government on how it could incorporate some of the key suggestions into a new Act to be considered by the incoming Parliament.
Some of the more controversial recommendations, such as conducting clinical trials into the medical use of leaf cannabis, would not be taken up, Dunne said.
"If the active ingredient of cannabis is seen as essential or beneficial for pain relief there are already pharmaceutical forms of it available that provide measured doses and quality control.''
The Government had already taken all synthetic cannabinoids such as Kronic off the market through temporary class drug notices and would deliver a permanent legislative solution next year.
That legislation would reverse the onus of proof so anyone wishing to sell such products would need to prove they were safe, he said.
Dunne said further work was required on the recommendations before details of the new law were finalised.
"These are big issues; they are complex and have consequences and a long term impact and that impact actually plays out in peoples' lives with issues like drugs, so it is important that we take the time to get it right and do not rush things.''
The Commission's recommendations that specialist drug courts be established is being handled separately by Justice Minister Simon Power.
The wide-ranging report also called for a review the drug classification system to address inconsistencies and focus on the harm caused by a drug, a mandatory cautioning scheme for all drug use and possession offences, removing minor drug offenders from the criminal justice system and providing greater access to drug treatment.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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