Pam Corkery; 23/9/13
The full horror of the Psychoactive Substances Act has landed. More than 100 retailers are selling 28 brands of synthetic highs – with the blessing of 119 MPs who voted for insane legislation now implemented by the Ministry of Health. New Zealand leads the world in enabling the glibly titled “party pill king” Matt Bowden to make huge dollars from the sale of untested drugs. Bowden has been allowed to buy a temporary licence to retail, import and manufacture synthetic highs, and is planning a pioneering factory on Auckland’s North Shore to keep them coming. The rationale behind the interim legitimacy of the drugs is that working with Bowden and his fellow travellers will be more effective than prohibition at reducing harm. Selling drug supply licences prior to testing for harm is seen as a show of good faith towards the synthetic drug industry. Ministry spokesman Dr Stewart Jessamine expects that drug designers will repay the gesture by being responsible.
Dr Jessamine obviously moves in different circles from me. To be fair to the good doctor who has a solid history with the ministry, the legal-high lunacy is in the Psychoactive Substances Act. The lawmakers and their supporters decided they were powerless over the synthetic drug recipes. The concoctions can be quickly adjusted, making it impossible to keep legal pace with successive versions of an original outlawed dose.
New South Wales legislators were faced with the same problem. They decided to use the National Poisons Schedule for two years to ban whole classes of drugs, not just individual components, to give them breathing space to get a handle on this new generation of highs. Go figure.
Back here it beggars belief that temporary licences can be bought for $10,000 to traffic synthetic drugs to keep the industry onside until appropriate regulations are established. The testing regime might not be in place until next year by which time the manufacturers will have banked large profits. When the protocols are ready, the designers are given another month’s grace to decide whether to submit their products for examination. It’s not a big leap to suggest they will simply withdraw their drugs du jour from the market, avoid paying the nearly $200,000 just to get the approval process started, then whip up a slightly altered batch, and apply for another temporary licence. On to the market will come a new wave of untested drugs.
No lawmaker or scientist can know the possible long-term damage of these unholy products. It could be memory loss, a new fetal drug syndrome, or severe mental impairment. That’s on top of the inevitable hell life for the users, their loved ones, and the negative impact on the wider community. The massive profits and the drugs’ legal status will encourage the addition of masking agents to the highs. Workplace drug-testing will become more difficult and more expensive, and screening kids at home will be priced out of reach for most desperate parents.
So why the panic with the temporary licences? I don’t get it. New Zealanders have called for a stop to these drugs since Bowden introduced BZP and Kronic in the mid-2000s. There have been hikoi, protests outside puff-shops, citizens with placards, and volunteers helping health officers and police to check on dairy-owners selling this rubbish. Those immediately impacted by the drug-users have bled their guts publicly to get the substances out of their communities.
Bowden has been in the media too. After touring overseas in his rock star persona, he’s back and being socialised into the public consciousness – as a businessman talking about his venture. The tolerance given this bloke is nuts. Imagine if Bowden were a tattooed gangster instead of an odd looking man in full makeup, with a nasty dye-job, dressed in 80s Split Enz attire. I firmly believe that the 119 MPs who voted for this law did so to show that they were liberal-minded, well-adjusted, down with the peeps, almost groovy.
They’re not. New Zealand doesn’t want these drugs. We’ve got more than enough already. The main consumers of synthetic highs are young people – because of the price. The legal green light will ratchet up experimentation by a minority to the status of a rite of passage for the majority. Kids will use them to be cool. The thing is it can be fatally cool. This insane law must become an election issue next year.
Synthetic high sales a disgrace: chamber chief ; 2
NZ Herald, no internet text
One of Auckland’s industry leaders has slammed a new system that allows retailers to sell synthetic highs and plans to lobby the government to rethink the way it handles the mind-altering substances.Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett has labelled the system that allows 107 retailers to continue selling 28 brands of synthetic cannabis a “disgrace” that “experiments with the lives of our young people”.
The Weekend Herald revealed the Ministry of Health has temporarily approved the drugs, saying they appear to be relatively low risk and will have to pass stringent tests if they are to go on sale permanently. The move is sanctioned under the Psychoactive Substances Act, which came into force two months ago and banned sales of synthetic drugs from dairies and other convenience stores.
The act allows sales from specialist shops if makers can prove their pro¬ducts are low risk, but the regulations setting standards may not be ready until next year. When the standards have been set, drug makers and sellers will have a month to decide whether they want to apply for a full licence and three months to make the application.
Manufacturers are expected to have to pay millions of dollars to cover the cost of testing each drug. Online forums describe the potent effects of the available products, that go by names including Anarchy, Voo¬doo and White Rhino, as “extremely potent” and warned users to be care¬ful with the amount they take.
Mr Barnett said the situation was a disgrace. “As business owners and parents we are seeing the futures of young people destroyed and as em¬ployers the employability of young people damaged and families in dis¬array as a result of these drugs.
“In my language this says that until standards are set we can continue to experiment with the lives of our young people, their families and their futures. This is totally naive and un¬acceptable.” He said he intended to wage a campaign in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce to object to “this use of young people’s lives as test beds for drug’s products are al¬lowed on the market. “I find it in¬credulous that authorities continue to allow themselves to be outwitted by the producers of these products.”
Psychoactive Substances Bill 3
New Zealand Parliament
The Psychoactive Substances Bill is a proposed law in New Zealand. It seeks to allow the legal sale of psychoactive substances such as party pills and legal highs by offering limited regulation in the form of licensing and pre-release human experimentation to test substance effects. Currently, such substances are sold legally in New Zealand in a relatively new experimental market aimed at decriminalising the production and sale of recreational drugs. Because of legal attitudes to drugs in New Zealand the government believes it can only control these drugs by identifying such substances when they are released to the market and then ban them using the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975, because of this reasoning manufacturers can quickly get around the ban by producing new variants. The Psychoactive Substances Bill is expected to pass in July with support from both major parties in Parliament.
The bill seeks to make manufacturers test and prove their products are low-risk before they can be sold. Required testing includes human experimentation and could potentially conflict with the spirit of the principle of section 10 in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. Testing is expected to cost manufacturers $1 to 2 million dollars. There is also an $180000 application fee.
The BBC opines this bill “crosses a Rubicon” in global drug policy, because it changes the response of government to drugs from prohibition to regulation. Countries around the world including United States, Hungary, Ireland, Britain, Australia and Canada expressed interest in the bill when it was presented at a United Nations Commission in Vienna in March 2013.
The “legalisation” and deregulation, or decriminalisation, of selling psychoactive substances in New Zealand began as early as 2005 with the introduction of section 62 in the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act 2005. This act was followed by the Misuse of Drugs (Restricted Substances) Regulations 2008.  The introduction of the Psychoactive Substances Bill could be seen as an extension of the deregulation of the selling of these types of drugs, although the bill goes some way toward appearing to impose limited restrictions. Legislation on drugs misuse in New Zealand could be criticised for having become somewhat messy and ineffective: with a series of acts, amendments and regulations making the law awkward for citizens (looking for a quick answer) to interpret.
Former party pill supplier Matt Bowden is planning to manufacture products that will pass the tests required by the bill, suggesting the bill’s efficacy at limiting sale will itself be tested by drug manufacturers.
^ Jump up to: a b “New Zealand a ‘world leader’ on party pills”. New Zealand Herald. APN. 17 March 2013. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
Jump up ^ Davison, Isaac (1 March 2013). “Party pill bill likely to pass easily”. New Zealand Herald. APN. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
^ Jump up to: a b “Dairy drug sales to be banned within weeks”. The New Zealand Herald. 25 May 2013. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
Jump up ^ Easton, Mark (28 February 2013). “Kiwis on drugs: A blueprint for the future?”. BBC. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
Jump up ^ “Misuse of Drugs (Restricted Substances) Regulations 2008″. New Zealand Legislation. 6 October 2008. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
Psychoactive Substances Bill a ‘game-changer’ Government press release
New regulatory regime for psychoactive substances Ministry of Health background info
Proposed laws of New Zealand
Drug control law
2013 in New Zealand
2013 in law
Drugs in New Zealand
Rally set to voice anger over sale of synthetics, 4
Amy Shanks; 22/9/13
Business owners, councillors and Hastings residents will not stop until they have achieved a “drug-free CBD”. Concerned parties held a meeting last night to arrange a protest, after major issues were raised about the availability of synthetic drugs from two licensed retailers in the central city. “We have got a group of very upset people, everybody from parents to business owners, who realise that this is far more serious than everyone first thought,” Hastings District Councillor Sandra Hazlehurst said. “[In council] we debated that there was nothing we could do in our policy to provide a location that was able to sell this product, the realisation was that it wasn’t to be in a suburb or close to churches or schools, but it could be sold in the CBD. We don’t want this in our town, but we are quite powerless to stop it.”
Local people were encouraged to take “responsibility” by gathering at the town clock in Hastings from 12.30pm next Friday to support the ban. “We have asked local MPs and the Mayor to address the crowd, then we will march with placards down to Landmark Square going past the sellers of the product,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for the community to take control, it’s up to us to get out and support it. “This is a call to action, to get out and do something about this.”
Cr Hazlehurst would like to see representatives from all walks of life banding together to fight for the same cause. “The sad thing is when the Act came in, we thought it was going to do away with all psychotic substances; we banned Kronic and K2, now there’s 20 variations of Kronic that have slipped through the cracks.”
Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule has already taken the concerns of his council to parliament. “He has been to talk with government to say they have done a cop out on this, they have left the community to deal with it. “We asked for licences to be temporarily suspended until the Act is changed. These drugs are supposed to be safe, they are actually very dangerous, because it’s legal people have this perception that it’s safe.”