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Industry taken by surprise by legal high withdrawl

The STAR Trust today confirmed that the industry was completely taken by surprise after learning from the media yesterday that legal high products currently licensed would be withdrawn in a few weeks.

The shock announcement from Associate Minister Dunne contradicts earlier assertions that bans do not work and has led to accusations of political posturing in an election year.

“We appreciate that Minister Dunne is desperate to front foot this issue but discriminating against consumers of low risk social tonics is going to cause businesses to shut down, staff to be laid off and otherwise law abiding Kiwis to deal with organised crime leading to severely worse public health outcomes,” said Grant Hall, General Manager of The STAR Trust.

The New Zealand Drug Foundation also believes the emergency law banning legal highs will lead to binge-buying, fire sales, a boosted black market and addicts withdrawing without support.

Foundation head Ross Bell said the political parties were "playing silly buggers" with the issue because they had all agreed to stagger the implementation of the Psychoactive Substances Act, introduced in July last year, meaning a testing regime had still not been developed.

Under the act, introduced last July, licensed retailers can sell products deemed to pose no more than a low risk of harm.

The Ministry of Health currently has the tools to ban approved products based on reports of adverse effects and last month removed five products meaning that the ones left on the shelves were still compliant.

The STAR Trust claims that most of the media hysteria is focused on product abuse, illegal use by minors or counterfeit products which are causing all the reported harms and believes that the emergency law is the result of media pressure and political point scoring in an election year.

“Banning a product doesn’t make the marketplace for it disappear,” according to Hall. “This ban just hands over control to organised crime who don’t do quality control, don’t check identification and don’t pay taxes. All of which leads to worse public health outcomes.”

28th April - Media Statement - ENDS

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