Bill aims to ban party pills

Party pill users face a new type of comedown after an MP launched a private member's bill yesterday to reclassify the active ingredient in the legal drug.

Launching her Misuse of Drugs (Prohibition of BZP) Amendment Bill in Invercargill yesterday, National's Otago MP Jacqui Dean said she was gobsmacked by the level of concern in the provinces about party pills.

"When I go to places like Wanganui, Gisborne or Napier the level of concern over the pills is everywhere. Originally I had thought it was just a South Island thing."

Mrs Dean initially wanted restrictions on their sale, but now "I just want them banned".

Party pills or herbal highs can be sold to people over 18 and contain the active ingredient benzylpiperazine (BZP), which has been used as a cattle wormer.

Frustrated by the Government and Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton's lack of action, Mrs Dean said her bill would see party pills in the same class as cannabis.

"BZP is an entry level into all other drugs and a gateway to P and research shows it is a dangerous drug.

"We are conditioning our children to take pills to have a good time."

She said party pills retailed for as little as $10 each, but were produced for 20c. She accepts another drug may fill the void if BZP were banned.

"If people are really comfortable taking a pill and having a few drinks now, then having a smoke of P at a party may seem safe to them. Well, it isn't."

Citing reports of children as young as 10 through to pensioners on the West Coast taking party pills, she said it was now time to act on something that was entrenching drug culture in society.

"There is no reason for the minister to delay and that is why I am not prepared to sit back."

With the support of National leader John Key, Mrs Dean said her bill was a conscientious decision and she expected support from Labour MPs.

"It isn't a political issue, it is an issue for us as a society. Last year I was calling for regulation of party pills, I now know that isn't enough. I want them banned, all or nothing."

Mrs Dean decided to launch the bill in Invercargill because of the large level of concern about party pills in the city. A petition from Invercargill MP Eric Roy received more than 1500 signatures calling for tougher rules on the sale of party pills.

The bill will prohibit the manufacture, sale and possession of BZP-based drugs by moving it from the list of restricted substances to the list of Class C controlled drugs.

- OTAGO DAILY TIMES

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