Restrictions on legal highs coming

Synthetic cannabinoid substance Kronic will be banned for under-18s. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Synthetic cannabinoid substance Kronic will be banned for under-18s. Photo / Steven McNicholl

Legal products that mimic the high given by smoking cannabis are set to be banned for under-18s.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne today signalled the Government will tighten up its controls on synthetic "cannabinoid" substances.

Products such as "Spice", Kronic", Aroma" and "Dream", which are widely available from 'party pill' outlets, online retailers and an increasing number of dairies and convenience stores, would be illegal to sell to anyone under 18.

Restrictions on where products can be advertised and what outlets can sell them are also likely to be imposed.

Mr Dunne said the decision was made on advice from an Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs.

It had concluded synthetic substances with similar effects to cannabis should not be widely available without restrictions on their packaging marketing and sale, he said.

"I fully agree.

"The legislation will allow the Government to put in place controls to prevent the sale of these products to young people, aggressive marketing and generally cut their widespread availability.

Mr Dunne said all synthetic substances with "cannabinomimetic effects" would be restricted under the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act 2005.

An amendment Act, which allows hazardous substances to also be classified as restricted substances must be passed for that to happen, he said.

The bill is currently before Parliament awaiting its second reading.

"In the meantime, I am putting traders in these products on notice that it is irresponsible to market, sell or offer to sell to anyone under the age of 18.

"My advice for anyone considering using any unregulated substance is to avoid them completely."

Cannabinoid products are identified as 'herbal smoking blends' or 'legal highs'.

The products contain vegetable matter that has been treated with synthetic substances so they produce psychoactive effects similar to those of cannabis when smokes.

- NZ Herald staff

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