David Fisher

David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

NZ becomes Kronic dealer to world

Legal high king Matt Bowden says he is getting out of the synthetic cannabis industry. Photo / Dana Lee
Legal high king Matt Bowden says he is getting out of the synthetic cannabis industry. Photo / Dana Lee

Massive shipments of synthetic cannabis were being flown offshore yesterday as the deadline for the drug becoming illegal approached.

Pallets of the compound were being loaded at Auckland International Airport yesterday. The Herald on Sunday understands Canada is one market where the product will be sent.

It comes as retailers drop their price to shift as much of the product as possible while others were sending their supplies back in anticipation of the ban, which comes into force next week.

Lightyears Ahead boss Matthew Wielenga said the company planned to hand the drug over as soon as "the law kicks in". "We've got quite a lot of clean-up work to do yet. We're still trying to clear out all our product and we're still busy as hell doing what we're doing.

"This week we've had tonnes of product returned, just people just tidying up. We've had mountains of work ahead of us, as you could imagine."

He confirmed the company was shipping the drug abroad but would not confirm which countries he was targeting.

"We've still got our overseas markets that we're focusing on as well."

Wielenga said he expected it likely "dribs and drabs" would arrive after the date it became illegal.

Legal high king Matt Bowden said he was getting out of the synthetic cannabis industry due to Government policies.

"Where we want to go is where things are properly regulated," he said.

But Bowden said the Government had not listened to the legal high industry's views. He said it would lead to new products entering the market and the Government facing the prospect of banning them one by one.

"Things are going to get worse before they get better," he said.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said efforts to shift the drug offshore showed the law change he belatedly championed was working. "He's just exporting the problem from New Zealand to Canada. I don't think the Canadians will be very impressed.

"The good news as far as New Zealand is concerned is he's disposing of his stock."

Retailers were clearing out supplies yesterday, with some shops offering 50 per cent off. Others were offering free packs of the drug with others bought.

One retailer, who didn't want to be named, said people had been "stocking up" in the last week ahead of next week's deadline. "People are buying one or two packs of the seven gram," she said. "They buy the small packs normally."

- Herald on Sunday

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