National Drug Policy Committees

New Zealand has two committees that perform key roles in relation to drug policy and classification.

Inter-Agency Committee on Drugs (IACD)

The Inter-Agency Committee on Drugs (IACD) ensures that policies and programmes developed by government agencies are consistent and mutually supportive.


Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs (EACD)

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 (The Act) controls the supply of drugs by classifying drugs based on the risk of harm a drug poses to individuals or to society by their misuse.

The Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs (EACD) was established by the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act 2000 to provide expert advice to the Minister of Health (the Minister) regarding drug classification issues.

The EACD is an advisory body that only makes recommendations to the Minister. It is the role of the Minister to decide whether to put forward any recommendations to Parliament for decision.

The EACD:

  • conducts reviews of controlled drugs and other narcotic or psychotropic substances
  • recommends to the Minister whether and how such substances should be classified under the Act
  • increases public awareness of its work by (for instance) releasing papers, reports and recommendations.

The Act requires the EACD to consist of up to 11 members. The Committee must comprise up to:

  • five people who, between them, have appropriate expertise in:
    • pharmacology
    • toxicology
    • drug and alcohol treatment
    • psychology
    • community medicine
  • three people employed in the Public Service who between them have appropriate expertise in:
    • public health
    • the appropriateness and safety of pharmaceuticals and their availability to the public
    • border control.
  • Also required are:
    • one Police employee
    • one employee of the Ministry of Justice who has appropriate expertise in matters relating to the justice system
    • one person representing the views of consumers of drug treatment services.

 The EACD reconvened in October 2014. The current members are:

  • Dr Cynthia Darlington (Chair) – Pharmacology
  • Dr Keith Bedford – Toxicology
  • Dr Vicki Macfarlane – Drug and alcohol treatment
  • Dr Jaki Horn – Psychology
  • Vacant – Community medicine
  • Ms Lynette Knox – Consumer Representative
  • Dr Stewart Jessamine – Public health/Safety of pharmaceuticals (Ministry of Health)
  • Mr James Bamford – Border control
  • Detective Superintendent Gregory Williams – New Zealand Police
  • Mr Richard Schmidt – Ministry of Justice.

Drug classification process

The Act requires the classification of controlled drugs to be based on the risk of harm to individuals or society. The EACD is required to advise the Minister on a range of specific criteria for each drug. These include:

  • the likelihood or evidence of drug abuse, including the prevalence of the drug, levels of consumption, drug seizure trends, and the potential appeal to vulnerable populations
  • the specific effects of the drug, including pharmacological, psychoactive, and toxicological effects
  • the risks, if any, to public health
  • the therapeutic value of the drug, if any
  • the potential for use of the drug to cause death
  • the ability of the drug to create physical or psychological dependence
  • the international classification and experience of the drug in other jurisdictions
  • any other matters that the Minister considers relevant.

The Committee is administered by a Secretariat comprised of Ministry of Health officials and advisers, as required. The Secretariat’s contact details are:

EACD Secretariat
c/o Regulatory Practice and Analysis
Medsafe
Ministry of Health
PO Box 2013
Wellington
eacd@moh.govt.nz

More information on the criteria for classifying drugs, the role of the EACD and the Minister of Health, and the classification process is contained in sections 3A to 5AA of the Act. Go to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 on the New Zealand Legislation website to learn more.

EACD meeting agenda and minutes:

27 April 2016 meeting:

7 October 2015 meeting:

16 April 2015 meeting:

23 October 2014 meeting:

EACD advice to the Minister of Health on:

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