1 Feb 2018

Member's Bill aims to crack down on synthetic drugs

9:34 pm on 1 February 2018

MPs are to vote on whether to ramp up the punishment for people who sell synthetic substances, sometimes referred to as synthetic cannabis.

Synthetic cannabis and a pipe.

Synthetic cannabis and a pipe. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

A bill, sponsored by National MP Simeon Brown, has been drawn from Parliament's lottery which means it will be considered this year.

The legislation would increase the maximum penalty on suppliers of the illegal psychoactive drugs from two years imprisonment to eight years.

Mr Brown said the products had become more potent and were linked with about 20 reported deaths last year.

"These are pretty harmful products ... we need to see it tightened up so that we are cracking down on supply."

Simeon Brown, National's candidate for Pakuranga.

National MP Simeon Brown Photo: RNZ / Sarah Robson

He said the punishment should be brought in line with the penalty for supplying a Class C drug, such as cannabis.

"We need to send a message to those that are supplying these harmful products that they'll be subject to harsher penalties."

Mr Brown said he'd be talking to every political party to try get his bill over the line.

"Ensuring that it progresses successfully through Parliament will allow us to better protect our communities and young people."

A bill in the name of National MP Melissa Lee was also drawn from the ballot. She said it seeks to fix an anomaly in which migrants lose their ACC support upon turning 65 even if they were not eligible for superannuation.

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