Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has written the foreword for a new book that advocates the sale of cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines from pharmacies.
Clark, a proponent of drug law reform who recently spoke out in support of cannabis legalisation in New Zealand, wrote that "a meaningful exploration of the regulation of stimulant drugs" is needed as part of a "frank exploration of the alternatives" to the war on drugs in the introduction to "How to regulate stimulants: A practical guide".
The book, from UK drugs reform charity Transform, recommends the stimulants be provided in a tightly regulated and controlled manner from approved pharmacies in order to break international crime syndicates' stranglehold on the drug trade.
It draws upon what it says was New Zealand's "failed experiment" in regulating so-called BZP-based "party pills", arguing that our experience shows "how legal regulation of a stimulant for recreational use can reduce some risks, and does not inevitably lead to disaster."
The book, discussing plans for the UK market, proposes a government agency license production of the currently illegal drugs.
Only a single adult dose of the drugs would be sold in plain packaging, with prominent health warnings.
The new regulatory agency would set prices, and advertising would be banned.
In her foreword, Clark writes that "there is a growing consensus" that the war on drugs has failed and argues that "drug use is a reality which must be responsibly managed".
"We cannot wish away drugs — but we can make them and their modes of use safer. That, in turn, requires accepting that legally regulating adult-access markets for currently illegal drugs is the only way in which to mitigate the harms caused by the illegal market.
"We do not get to choose whether we live in a society with drugs or without them, but we do have a choice over whether and how the market is controlled. As consensus grows that the 'war on drugs' has failed, so does the need for a frank exploration of the alternatives.
"We all have a responsibility to consider what might replace the status quo, and we need to think about how that applies to all drugs. A meaningful exploration of the regulation of stimulant drugs is a key part of that process."
Transform chief executive Dr James Nicholls told The Guardian the proposals offered a path out of the intractable global drug war.
"Our proposals would take drug supply away from organised crime groups, creating a system that reduces harm rather than increasing it. The status quo can't continue," he said.
During the debate on our recent cannabis referendum, Clark encouraged New Zealanders to vote for legalising personal use, saying that keeping it illegal and unregulated only added to harm and wasted resources.
Clark said up to 80 per cent of New Zealanders would use cannabis at some point in their lives.
"They know their hair doesn't go green and their teeth don't fall out - it's significantly less harmful than either tobacco or alcohol."
Preliminary referendum results will be released on October 30 and final results on November 6.