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A change to the misuse of Drugs Amendment act 2005 - reversal of onus of proof for people charged with possesion of a needle or syringe.

The misuse of Drugs amendment act 2005 became law on 21 june. One of the legal changes affects users of New Zealands Needle exchange Programme.

The act has been ammended to move the defence of possession of a needle or syringe from the health (Needles and Syringes) Regulations 1998 into the principal act, and to reverse the onus of proof.

The purpose is to remove a legal disencentive for people who inject drugs (PWID's) to obtain needles and syringes from a legitimate source. Previously, a PWID who was charged with possesion of a needle or syringe had to prove that he or she obtained the injecting equipment from a needle exchange outlet. The amendment reverses the onus of proof so that in order to secure a conviction the Police must show that the defendant did not obtain their injecting equipment from a legitimate needle exchange outlet.

Moving the legal defence from the regulations into the misuse of Drugs act makes the defence more apparent to the public and to legal professionals.