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Dunne: beginning of end for an unregulated legal highs

Hon Peter Dunne
Associate Minister of Health

Tuesday, 9 April 2013 Media Release

Dunne: beginning of end for an unregulated legal highs industry

Today is the beginning of the end of an unregulated legal highs industry, and young New Zealanders will be the safer for it, Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said at the first reading of the Psychoactive Substances Bill in Parliament.

Over the last 20 years, New Zealand and other countries have been facing an acceleration in the development of new recreational drugs, and the situation, as I have said regularly has been one of authorities trying to play catch-up to keep people safe.

“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,” Mr Dunne said.

“Scores of products with unknown effects and unknown risk profiles — indeed, some barely known to science at all — have slipped through this regulatory void and onto dairy shelves,” he said in Parliament.

“The public has been rightly concerned as news reports have highlighted that young adults — adolescents and even some children — have been taking these so-called legal highs, and suffering as a result.

“This legislation fixes that,” he said.

The Bill will replace the temporary class drug notice regime that has been in place since August 2011.

“It has done its job very well, taking 33 substances and as a result, more than 50 products off the market, but it was only ever a holding regime until we could get this law in place.

“We are still getting worrying reports about these substances, and that is exactly why this law is so important,” Mr Dunne said.

The Bill will include 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 sale of products to those under 18, and place restrictions and prohibitions on places of sale; and
• Establish an appeals committee


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