Prime Minister John Key says banning the sale of synthetic cannabis products is the right move, while the long term health risks remain unknown.
Tomorrow 43 synthetic cannabis products, including the popular Kronic brand, will be banned under legislation to go before Parliament.
The action will see a ban on the 43 synthetic products in place by Friday, with the products off the shelves just over a week later.
Cabinet today approved amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill that will take synthetic cannabis off the market for 12 months while the Government works on its detailed response to the Law Commission's recent report.
Prime Minister John Key said at his post-Cabinet press conference that the risks of Kronic and other similar products were not known, but the possible long term effects could not be ignored.
"We are not going to stand by while these substances are being constantly made and put up for sale."
He said the long term aim was to introduce legislation which required makers to prove the drug was safe before it could be sold.
He said other substances such as party pills would be considered as part of longer term changes, but the immediate concern was about the 43 drugs in question.
Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne will introduce a Supplementary Order Paper to the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill that will allow a temporary order to be put on substances like Kronic.
Such an order will take the products off the market for 12 months while their safety is tested.
Mr Dunne said the temporary class drug notices will be an interim measure which will mean the substances, although not Class C1 controlled drugs, will carry the same penalties as Class C1 drugs.
He said the process around dealing with these substances has been complex and it was important that the Government get it right.
"Critics have pointed to faster responses overseas, but some of those laws are coming unstuck already, with new products coming on to the market that are not covered.
"We have addressed that here. If new products turn up and we are concerned about them, we will be able to put temporary class drugs notices on them straight away.
- NZ Herald staff