Govt agrees with experts - class B for Fantasy 1/3

Tariana Turia Associate Minister of Health

Govt agrees with experts - class B for Fantasy

The government agrees that Fantasy should be classified as Class B,
Associate Health Minister Hon Tariana Turia announced today.

"The fantasy range of drugs, which includes Gamma hydroxy butyrate (GHB), 1,4
butanediol, (1,4-B) and GBL should be classified as Class B drugs under the
Misuse of Drugs Act 1975," Tariana Turia said.

"Three people were hospitalised over the weekend after taking Fantasy. We
need to ensure that people realise the danger they are putting themselves in, if
they decide to take it.

"The drug is a depressant of the central nervous system, small doses have a
relaxant effect, produce short term amnesia, while slightly higher doses can
stop people breathing, cause seizures and coma.

"It is important to know that the same dose can affect people in different
ways. One of the risks arises, because it has a delayed effect, so there is a
much great risk of people overdosing because they take additional doses after a
short time. A euphoric dose for one person could sedate another person.

"The Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs recommendation is evidence based and
has specifically suggested the Fantasy range of drugs be listed under Part One
of Class B. Cabinet has agreed to the recommendation.

"Offences relating to Class B drugs carry penalties of up to 14 years
imprisonment for the importation, manufacture or supply, up to 10 years
imprisonment for conspiracy to commit an offence, and up to 3 months
imprisonment, or $500 fine, or both, for possession.

Tariana Turia said she agreed with the Committee's original recommendation.

"Classification is based on the risk of harm to individuals or society. With
these drugs, there is a fine line between achieving the effect the drug taker is
seeking, and having an overdose resulting in potentially serious consequences.

The proposed classification will now be referred to the Health select
committee for consideration as set out under the Act, early next year.

"To both provide a forum for public scrutiny and bring this drug under the
law as swiftly as possible, there is to be a streamlined select committee
process. Any law change must then be approved by Parliament.

Tariana Turia said the classification was only one step in a process to
decrease harm done by these drugs.

"The most important step now is to improve and develop complementary
initiatives, such as the provision of accurate health information on keeping
safe in places where these drugs are used. To reduce the harm these drugs can do
information must be presented in ways that will ensure it reaches all those that
it needs to.

"Reducing availability for supply is also an important aspect in an effort to
reduce the harm these drugs can do.

"I am pleased with the amount and depth of research carried out by the
Committee before it made its carefully considered recommendation," said Tariana
Turia.

The Expert Advisory Committee's report to the Minister is posted on the
National Drug Policy Website www.ndp.govt.nz.