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May 4, 2014 | by  | in News |
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Peter Done Did It

Salient’s guide to synthetic-drugs law in New Zealand

WHAT DOES THE PSYCHOACTIVE SUBSTANCES ACT DO?
The Psychoactive Substances Act regulates legal highs. It came into force last July.

– It placed an R18 restriction on the sale of legal highs;

– It limited the sale of legal highs to R18 stores;

– And all synthetic drugs that were not already on the shelves would be presumed illegal. They could become legal if they passed a clinical trial process much like that for pharmaceutical drugs which proved that they were “low risk”.

– The Act took around 150 products off the shelves, leaving 41 available for sale.

– It devolved power to local councils to develop their own Local Area Policy Plans. That would allow local councils to determine where legal highs could be sold in the area. So for example, the Hastings District Council zoned out all legal highs from Hastings.

WHAT HAS CHANGED?
– On 27 April, Peter Dunne announced that the Government would introduce legislation to remove synthetic drugs from sale within three weeks.

– The Bill to remove legal highs from shops was set to pass under urgency within ten days – on Wednesday 8 May.

– Manufacturers will now have to prove their products are safe before they can be sold.

– This approval process could take 18–24 months and cost a manufacturer up to $2 million.

– During that time, there will be no synthetics on the market.

– The question now is whether to allow testing on animals. Labour oppose animal testing – even though every Labour MP voted in favour of the Act, which allowed for animal testing.

WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS?
– Within hours of the announcement, there were reports of shops selling the drugs being burgled.

– Peter Dunne has said he delayed announcing the removal as long as possible so as to avoid stockpiling.

– The threat of a black market is very real. The New Zealand Drug Foundation has said it is very easy for people to buy the drugs online, as they can be sent in quantities so small that Customs may find them hard to detect.

– The Drug Foundation has also said that withdrawing the drugs without any support for users could lead to harmful outcomes for those addicted to the drugs.

– Ireland banned ‘legal highs’ in May 2010 and this, in the words of Peter Dunne, has “driven the whole industry underground and nothing has changed. And while we have got it off the public agenda, the problem is just as real as ever.”

– On 1 May, six synthetic cannabis products were removed from shelves after users reported adverse effects, and eight manufacturers had their licences suspended.

– NZ First have called for Peter Dunne’s resignation.

– Supreme Overlord John Campbell has been successful once again in influencing public opinion and policy.

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About the Author ()

Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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