Free-for-all of the backyard chemists is over

New Zealand have passed new legislation which will make the production and selling of ‘legal highs’ and synthetic cannabis much more difficult since suppliers will have to prove the substances for sale are low risk.  Offences will result in a large fine or even prison.


Mike Sabin, MP for Northland says he is hoping to see ‘backyard chemists’ who manufacture psychoactive substances, commonly sold as legal highs and synthetic cannabis, put out of business following the passing of the Psychoactive Substances Bill this afternoon.


“Over the last 20 years, countries all over the world have been dealing with an acceleration in the development of new forms of synthetic so-called ‘legal highs’ with the psychoactive compounds being ones that fall outside of drug classifications. This creates a cat and mouse effect for legislators and authorities trying to respond to the impacts of these drugs, says Mr Sabin.


“This Bill is unprecedented in that it responds directly to the exploitation of this anomaly, thus reversing the burden of proof to the manufacturers and suppliers of substances, meaning they will have to demonstrate that what they want to supply is low risk – or it won’t be able to make it to market.


“Scores of products with unknown effects and unknown risk profiles have made their way through this gap in the regulatory net and ended up on dairy counters alongside lollies,” says Mr Sabin.


“This new legislation is not in any way legitimising drug taking. It is specific to the particular nature of synthetically manufactured drugs, by beating the chemists at their own game through putting the onus on them; something I hope will drive them out of business and turn Kiwis off these products.


The new legislation includes provisions for:

·        A regulatory authority within the Health Ministry to

o consider and approve or decline psychoactive substances

o issue a manufacturing code of practice

o issue importation, manufacturing and sale licences

o conduct post-marketing monitoring, audit and recall functions

* Establish an expert advisory committee to provide the authority with technical advice

* Set offences and penalties under the Bill, including up to two years’ imprisonment for some offences, and fines of up to $500,000

·        Restrict sales of approved products to those over 18, remove sales from dairies and other non-specialty shops and restrict advertising to point of sale only.

·        Prescribe retail restrictions (including advertising, labelling, and packaging restrictions), health warnings, signage, display, and other requirements.


“We should all remember that the only safe drug use is no drug use. Far from being an example as to how to deal with other drugs, as some opposition Parties are suggesting, this law change is simply the best way to stop chemists from altering the chemical compounds to beat the legislation, says Mr Sabin.


“These drug manufacturers have made a lot of money and caused a lot of misery in New Zealand. I hope the new law will put them out of business, because society doesn’t need what they have to offer.”


Source:  Media Statement by Mike Sabin National MP for Northland NZ  July 2013

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