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May 6, 2013 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Puff and Pass in the Past?

Getting high may soon be a little out of reach, with the Government addressing a Kronic problem with the safety of legal synthetic drugs.

The Psychoactive Substances Bill passed its First Reading on 9 April and is currently before Select Committee. It will regulate the legal high market by ensuring products must be proven safe before being able to be sold.

The Bill will create a regulatory authority to issue a manufacturing code of practice, approve or decline psychoactive substances, and issue importation, manufacturing and sale notices. It will restrict sale of products to those under 18, and restrict places of sale. Offences and penalties will include up to two years’ imprisonment for some offences, and fines of up to $500,000.

“This is game-changing legislation that will be in place by August, and will make the industry prove its products are safe or they will not be on the market,” said Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne.

Currently, many synthetic drugs can be sold without restrictions and without informing buyers what they contain. This Bill will force the industry to show that products such as party pills or synthetic cannabis are “low-risk” before they can be sold.

The current Bill will replace the status quo present since August 2011, whereby the Misuse of Drugs Act allows the banning of substances to take place only after new substances have been identified as unsafe. So far, 35 substances and 50 different products have already been taken off the market under the Act, with Dunne announcing two new bans last week.

Green MP Kevin Hague has expressed concerns about the term “low-risk”.

“If the threshold is set too high and no substances actually make it to market, what will occur then is that the existing situation will be perpetuated and the illegal trade in psychoactive substances will boom,” he said.

The use of synthetic drugs in New Zealand has been linked to psychosis, renal failure and heart failure, as well as an 18 per cent seizure rate among users.


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