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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 3 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 685 ..

Drugs of Dependence Amendment Bill 2002

Mr Stanhope , pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for Women) (10.36): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Today I introduce a bill to amend the Drugs of Dependence Act 1989. The act controls the manufacture, sale and supply of drugs of dependence. Drugs of dependence have a legitimate medical purpose but are illegal for recreational use and have a high potential for addiction, abuse and misuse. The act was originally developed as model legislation following extensive consultation with the community and was drafted to meet the practical requirements of those who would enforce and work with the act.

Part 6 of the act establishes procedures to regulate the prescription, requisition, supply and administration of drugs of dependence. It has recently come to light that there are deficiencies in subsections 58 (4) and 68 (1) in part 6 of the act. The bill corrects these deficiencies so that the act accurately reflects both the original policy intent of the law regarding the prescribing of amphetamines and the current and longstanding administrative practices regarding applications and approvals to prescribe all drugs of dependence.

The bill also validates approvals that have been issued in good faith to medical practitioners by the Chief Health Officer since 1989 to prescribe drugs of dependence to their patients. It is also appropriate to take the opportunity to update current medical terminology and practice in subsection 58 (4). The term "hyperkinetic syndrome" will be replaced by "attention deficit hyperactivity disorder", a term which is used internationally.

The phrase "under the age of 19 years" will also be deleted from subsection 58 (4). This reflects current prescribing practice which recognises that some adults suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and may benefit from the prescription of amphetamines and ensures that persons who commenced beneficial therapy whilst children are not disadvantaged when adulthood is reached. The bill also rewrites and simplifies section 58 of the act so that it is more easily understood.

In addition, it is timely to bring fines under the act into line with those applying under other territory legislation. This is being done by expressing fines in terms of penalty units rather than dollars.

Mr Speaker, I commend this bill to the members of the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Smyth ) adjourned to next sitting.

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