Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne wants to push the Psychoactive Substances Bill through Parliament faster than planned
When it returns from the select committee in mid-June, with the aim of having the legislation in place in July.
“As I have said, we need to get this law right. It is about the health of young New Zealanders using legal highs, and it is world-leading legislation. No one else has done anything like it,” Mr Dunne said.
“What we are looking to do is make the legal highs industry prove their products are safe and make sure they bear the cost of the testing process, not the taxpayer.
“The bill is currently before the Health Select Committee in an already truncated process. Usually that lasts up to six months, but it will have been well under two months when it is reported back to Parliament on 14 June.
“Given the importance of this legislation, I have had talks with the Prime Minister, John Key, and the Leader of the House, Gerry Brownlee, about even further fast-tracking the legislative process.
“The bill will now get its second reading on Thursday 27 June, and then move through the final stages into law in July.
“In the meantime, I will be taking it up with Parliament’s Business Committee and other political parties to see if the process can be even further accelerated,” Mr Dunne said.
“It is complicated legislation and we need to get it right and leave no loopholes for this industry, but we were already pushing this legislation quickly and it is now getting quicker.
“We are fully aware of the concerns of New Zealanders around these products and this industry,” he said.
The legislation needs to be in place by August 13 to take over from the Temporary Class Drug Notice regime, which currently bans 35 legal high substances, the first of which will expire on that day.
Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne is attempting to push through his Psychoactive Substances Bill faster after it returns from select committee stage in June.
The bill was originally scheduled to be passed into law by August 13, but Mr Dunne is hoping to have it in place by mid-July.
A spokesman for Mr Dunne’s office says the MP has “always had the desire to get it through as quickly as he could” given the bill’s public backing, and the move is not in response to last night’s episode of The Vote.
The bill aims to force party pill manufacturers to prove their products are safe before they are put on the market.
Changes to the current Temporary Class Drug Notice which lapses on August 13 include bringing in new offences and penalties of over $500,000 and instituting a minimum age of purchase.
All eight parties supported the bill at its first reading in April. It is currently before the Health Select Committee, which will report back to Parliament next month before the second reading on June 27.