22 Mar 2018

Synthetic cannabis petition delivered by dead son's father

11:35 am on 22 March 2018

Lewis Jones' 22-year-old son Calum died last September after struggling with addiction to synthetic cannabis.

Simeon Brown with Lewis Jones (right).

Simeon Brown with Lewis Jones (right). Photo: RNZ / Chris Bramwell

He collected nearly 1200 signatures calling for harsher punishments and an inquiry into addiction services, then delivered the petition to Parliament.

"I'm just representing those people that haven't got a voice, the ones that have passed away, the ones that are still being neglected and are still looking for help.

"Basically this is just one part of something that needs to be fixed, it's a deterrent cos it's too easy and accessible out there in the marketplace."

National's MP for Pakuranga, Simeon Brown, accepted the petition, which will be considered by a Parliamentary select committee.

"We need to make sure that we go down hard on those who are supplying the drugs, and secondly we need to give appropriate support to those who are suffering."

Mr Brown said he did not accept the argument that there was no evidence that tougher penalties deters drug dealers.

"Part of tougher penalties is about providing a deterrent, the other part is actually by taking the people who are supplying the drugs off our streets and locking them up."

Winston Peters said his party decided to support the bill because it would mean fewer people would die on the streets of New Zealand.

"These [drug dealers] are merchants of death, and the number of people who have died is clear evidence of that."

During the debate on the bill Police Minister, Stuart Nash, said locking people up for longer was not the answer.

"What we do know in corrections is what's happening at the moment is people are being locked up and we are throwing away they key, and then when we find that key to let them out in six, 12, 24 months time we say 'see you later', and you know what's happening, we are seeing them later."

Mr Nash said the systems were simply not in place yet to deal with the mental health and addiction problems in New Zealand.

But he said the government was investing billions into mental health and addiction, as well as holding an inquiry to see where the gaps were.

The legislation passed by 65 votes to 55 and will now be considered by the Justice Select Committee.

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