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The New Zealand Drug Foundation today called for all political parties to stop treating drug issues as a publicity platform and instead develop comprehensive alcohol and other drug policies.

Speaking on the eve of the 2nd Annual Drug Policy Roundtable, held at Parliament’s Legislative Council Chamber, Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said that all political parties needed to develop a consistent and comprehensive drug policy.

“With New Zealand’s National Drug Policy under review, an opportunity exists for political parties to each develop a comprehensive, evidence-based drug policy that includes prevention, education, treatment and justice responses,” said Mr Bell.

“To their credit, United Future and the Green Party developed detailed drug policies prior to the last election that included the role of alcohol as New Zealand’s number one drug of choice.

“We call on all parties to develop a comprehensive response to drug issues, instead of issuing populist statements when serious issues concerning alcohol and other drugs hit the headlines.”

Mr Bell said that for too long, political parties had developed ad-hoc responses to drug issues and were continuing to use those issues simply as a way to score political points.

“If New Zealand is to reduce the harm caused by drugs, then its leaders cannot continue to use drug issues as a political football to kick around whenever they see fit,” he said. “It’s high time for responsible political leadership on drug policy issues."

The Drug Foundation is convening the 2nd Annual Drug Policy Roundtable, held at Parliament on Wednesday May 31, hosted by Jim Anderton, the minister responsible for drug policy.

Politicians and senior policy makers attending the Roundtable will be briefed on current drug policy evidence, to discuss how international and New Zealand research and data can be used to develop good alcohol and other drug policy.

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