Synthetic cannabis off shelves by Wednesday

All synthetic cannabis products including Kronic will have to be taken off shelves by next week. Photo / Bevan Conley
All synthetic cannabis products including Kronic will have to be taken off shelves by next week. Photo / Bevan Conley

All synthetic cannabis products including Kronic will have to be taken off shelves by Wednesday next week after the first ban under amended drug legislation was issued today.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne, who promoted the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill passed by Parliament last week, today issued a temporary notice to take effect in seven days.

The 12-month notice lists 16 synthetic cannabinoids as the equivalent of Class C1 drugs, which makes it illegal to manufacture, import, expert, sell or supply those substances or products containing them.

All 43 synthetic cannabis products currently on the market, including Kronic, will be affected.

Matt Bowden, who imported the chemicals used in Kronic, said the decision had prompted him to pull out of the legal high market.

He said new sythetic drugs would be introduced into the market as importers attempted to skirt the regulatory laws.

"The Government has said it will now play regulatory cat and mouse with these products. That means fly-by-night products with short production runs, low safety standards and still no regulations. I don't want any part of that."

The Ministry of Health banned popular Kronic brand "Pineapple Express" in June, after scientists found it was contaminated with a controlled anti-anxiety drug.

Despite that, Mr Bowden defended his product, saying it had never caused a reported death.

He said he would work on an "epic" rock album until Government established a better regulatory framework for synthetic drugs.

The ban is an interim measure while the Government works on an overhaul of the Misuse of Drugs Act. Manufacturers will ultimately have to prove the safety of their products before they can be sold.

The listed substances will be assessed by an expert committee which will advise whether long-terms controls should be placed on them.

"These products are untested as demonstrated by two recent recalls, and suppliers cannot experiment on our youth," Mr Dunne said.

Responding to industry comments that new products would be brought in to replace the banned substances, Mr Dunne said: "Make my day. We have got this covered."

Any new unproven product would face the same treatment as those listed today, he said.

"The industry needs to get the message -- the game is over. You have not behaved responsibly at any point and we have taken matters out of your hands."

The Government had been criticised for not moving fast enough, but Mr Dunne said it was important to do the job properly.

"Hastily developed overseas legislation that some held up as the example to follow is already failing as new products with new ingredients are simply going around the law," he said.

"Our law means we can cut them off at the chase. We can respond very quickly to any psychoactive substances they want to throw our way, and basically ban them immediately."

- NZPA

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