IDPC/TNI series on legislative reform of drug policies - Drug law reform: lessons from the New Zealand experience

24 August 2010

New Zealand’s existing drug laws are out of date, overly complex and poorly aligned with official drug policy. In 2007, the Government decided to entrust an independent agency, the New Zealand Law Commission, to comprehensively review the country’s drug law.

The Commission will present a final report which is likely to feature a new approach to personal pos­session and use of drugs placing less emphasis on conviction and punish­ment and more on the delivery of effective treatment. This is an important departure as, in many countries, and previously in New Zealand, drug laws have been developed and implemented with little consideration of their wider impact on social policy.

The Commission's final report is likely to serve as a blueprint for drug law reform. Many of the recommendations will be applicable to other countries attempting to steer a balance between enacting progressive drug law reform while complying with their international treaty obligations.

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