Even as it was making its way to the statutes, New Zealand’s Psychoactive Substances Bill was the talk of the drug reform world. It was seen as a bold, visionary bid to deal with the proliferation of new drugs that fell outside existing laws and address the harms of an unregulated market.
It was all the more remarkable that the reform was being championed by a former drug warrior in Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne. When our Parliament passed the Psychoactive Substances Act last year with but a single vote against, it seemed New Zealand had taken a remarkable initiative.
And then, only months into the new world, the government rushed through an amendment that cut off a protracted interim licensing phase, halted the legal sale of all psychoactive substances and made any future approval much more challenging. It happened so quickly that one journalist landed here with a story commission from a major American magazine, knowing reform had been cut short after she’d booked her flights.
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