July 11th 2013 - New Zealand makes history with rational drug law reform

Today is an historic day for drug law reform. New Zealand is the first country in the world to enact drug law reforms that are evidence-based and focused on harm reduction, rather than the failed prohibition-based models of the past.

It is now widely accepted that prohibition is an ineffective and extremely costly response to drug harm that hurts communities where drug use persists.

Twenty years ago a consumer-driven, movement for change began in New Zealand. Its goal was to reduce harm by providing safer alternatives to illicit and dangerous drugs. This movement created a new legal market for ‘legal highs’.

However, this market lacked proper regulation. Over the last decade the government has been playing a chemical cat and mouse game that has resulted in reactive temporary bans of substances deemed ‘high risk’.

Matt Bowden, founder of Stargate International, is acknowledged as a global pioneer and leader of the legal highs market. His vision was a market where legal highs were safe, controlled and enjoyed.

Mr Bowden has been actively campaigning for a tightly regulated market supported by pharmaceutical grade safety testing. After engaging with the New Zealand Law Commission and various Select Committees his vision to help restructure New Zealand drug laws has been realised today.

“I’m tremendously proud of the bipartisan support for this Bill. It demonstrates New Zealand’s strong commitment to sensible, rational and evidenced based drug laws that work,” said Mr Bowden.