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Clampdown on drug paraphernalia

Published: 7:57AM Thursday August 17, 2006 Source: RNZ

The government is to clampdown further on the sale of drug paraphernalia used for smoking cannabis and methampethamine.

It follows an admission that the current law preventing the sale and importatation of bongs and pipes is not working. Many retailers and importers have found loopholes in the law and continued to sell drug utensils.

Parliament enacted a law in 2003 with the specific goal of stopping the importation and sale of utensils used for smoking illegal drugs.

However, the Minister Responsible for Drug Policy, Jim Anderton, says a new law is now needed.

Anderton says, for example, the courts have ruled under the current law that it is not actually illegal to display a pipe or bong. He says this means a shopkeeper actually has to be caught in the act of a sale, to be charged.

Anderton says some retailers have also been able to keep importing pipes and bongs by splitting them and selling them as individual items which can be reassembled. He says this also will be outlawed.

However Chris Fowlie a spokesman for NORML, a group opposed to cannabis prohibition, says Anderton is misguided and the law change smacks of the government wanting to look tough on drugs.

He says you can't have a ban on pipes because it is impossible to define what they are.

The Drug Foundation says it seems sensible to close the loopholes. But Ross Bell from the foundation says banning pipes does little to stop people using cannabis and methampetmine.

The new laws are likely to be drafted soon for the inclusion in an omnibus bill that will go before parliament later this year.

But Anderton says a technicality of parliament means that all parties must agree to the legislation before it can be included in the bill.

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