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BZP risks exaggerated

17th April 2007

BZP risks exaggerated, but banning will only make them worse

Jacqui Dean’s bill to prohibit legal party pills will result in an increase in Illegal drug use and abuse of alcohol, according to research by respected market research organisation Consumer Link.

“Legal party pills are an established part of the New Zealand social scene and you can’t pretend that you can just ban them without generating a reaction,” said STANZ chair Matt Bowden. “The nature of that reaction should be a key factor in the Government’s decision-making yet the Government has not even tried to evaluate the likely result, and this Bill aims to completely undermine the consultation process Jim Anderton has initiated and the entire evidence based system we have in New Zealand.

Mrs. Dean had claimed that BZP party pills were responsible for an increase in “stupid crimes” in the town of Oamaru.

“Legal party pills are nowhere near as dangerous as some people are making them out to be. They don’t increase serious crime, and they are not associated with aggressive behaviour or sexual assault.”

Consumer Link interviewed 200 New Zealanders aged between 18 and 29. Of the respondents 89 per cent drank alcohol, 41 per cent had used legal party pills and 54 per cent had used illegal drugs. This profile is consistent with the results of a Massey University study last year.

Key findings are:

 Legal party pills are not a route to harder drugs: Of those surveyed who used illegal drugs, 95.6 per cent answered “no” when asked if legal party pills had been a gateway.

 Legal party pills tend to reduce rather than promote other drug and alcohol use: Among the legal party pill users, a net 10.3 per cent reported taking less or no illegal drugs as a result and a net 9.8 per cent less or no alcohol.

 Banning legal party pills will lead to higher alcohol and illegal drug use: A net 30.5 per cent of party pill users believe that consumption of alcohol will increase and a net 50 per cent that illegal drug use will increase if BZP is banned. *To get an idea of how much more traffic this may generate for the illegal drug market, it should be remembered that 50,000 legal party pills are sold in New Zealand each week.

 The adverse effects from legal party pills are far less severe than for alcohol: Of the sample subset who had used both; 81.7 per cent reported suffering headaches as a result of alcohol consumption compared to 29.3 per cent from legal party pills while for vomiting the incidence was 74.4 per cent and 17.1 per cent respectively; memory loss; 59.8 per cent and 8.5 per cent; physical injury, 45 per cent and 7 per cent and aggression toward others, 28 per cent and 1.2 per cent.

 Legal party pills are non-addictive and much easier to control: 27.5 per cent of alcohol users described their drinking as either sometimes, often or always out of control and 18 per cent thought it would be “quite difficult” to quit, 7.3 per cent “very difficult” and 2.2 per cent “impossible”. The corresponding figures for legal party pill users were 3.6 per cent and 1.2 per cent. No-one thought giving up would be either “very difficult” or “impossible.”

“The results overwhelmingly reinforce our strongly held view that tougher regulations are the answer rather than prohibition or even the status quo, where the restrictions on the sale of party pills are few and where the consumer is provided with little protection under the law.

“STANZ has instructed professional public lawyers to draft a comprehensive set of regulations supported by a detailed code of manufacturing practice. We have put a lot of effort into cleaning up the industry and it would be extremely irresponsible for the Government to ignore this work, and the findings of the Consumer Link survey,” Matt Bowden said.

Note: Commissioned by the Social Tonics Association of New Zealand, the survey results are available on STANZ website at

  • Party Pills Research
  • ENDS

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