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Party pills regulations come at right time

23 May, 2005

Party pills regulations come at right time

The proposed changes to the Misuse of Drugs Act to include a new schedule to control - but not ban - party pills couldn't have come at a better time, New Zealand Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said today.

The Health Select Committee today tabled its report into the proposed changes with the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill, which includes the creation of a forth schedule to classify low-risk substances.

Mr Bell said that reports of a Christchurch teenager 'overdosing' on party pills on Saturday night showed a clear need for consumer protection and industry regulation and he welcomed the opportunity provided by the Bill to achieve this.

"The amendments provide the framework for party pills to be regulated but not banned outright, a flexible mechanism for harm-minimisation that hasn't existed before," said Mr Bell.

"Had the regulations been in effect earlier, we might not have seen shops selling bulk amounts of party pills at cut-price rates, while the consumer would've been well aware of the risks of taking such an amount all at once.

"The people that make and sell party pills know that taking ten party pills at once is going to make you very ill, but there are currently no requirements for them to provide consumer health warnings," said Mr Bell.

"While we can't regulate against personal stupidity, we can regulate against unsafe marketing practice and ensure the consumer is given sufficient information about the risks and effects of party pills.

"Bulk selling of cut-price drugs, legal or not, is an unsafe and un-ethical practice that is likely to increase the risk of harm in taking these substances.

"The Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs has advised that there isn't evidence to support banning BZP-based party pills. While we await further research into their safety, the creation of the new schedule seems a sensible solution," he said.

The bill introduces restrictions on the purchasing age of low-risk substances (with the select committee recommending 18 years), and advertising and marketing of the substances. It also requires consumer health warnings. The select committee also recommends restrictions on the places where the substances can be sold, for example not allowing the products to be sold at liquor outlets.

ENDS

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