The manufacturer of the controversial synthetic cannabis product K2 has decided to stop supplying the drug in New Zealand until new regulations are imposed, an industry spokesman says.
Grant Hall, the general manager of psychoactive drug advocacy group The Star Trust, said he had convinced K2's manufacturer to cease supplying the drug in the wake of its widespread condemnation.
Mr Hall said he received confirmation this morning from the manufacturer, who wants to remain anonymous, that the last shipment of K2 was dispatched yesterday and new stocks would not be supplied to outlets until after the Government's new regulations were introduced in August.
Mr Hall said K2 sold thousands of units every week and he hoped the decision to cut its supply would be seen as a "genuine desire of the industry to be seen as responsible".
It is a backflip for the K2 creators, who have previously dodged urgent Government bans on psychoactive substances by slightly altering the formula of the synthetic cannabis to make it legal for sale.
"Although no one has ever died from abusing K2, we have convinced the industry to act now as many consumers are being irresponsible with their consumption levels," Mr Hall said today.
"It was an initiative started by The Star Trust ... [but] at the end of the day it's [the manufacturer's] decision and we're proud of them for making it."
K2 has been linked to serious medical conditions including psychotic episodes.
The Government's Psychoactive Substances Bill will attempt to regulate the industry by putting the onus on the manufacturers to prove their substances are "low risk" before they can be sold.
Mr Hall said the decision to drop K2 from the marketplace showed the industry was "serious about creating a market for new psychoactives that is regulated, low risk and puts the health, safety and rights of consumers first".
He said K2's manufacturer intended to meet the strict standards to be introduced from August, and The Star Trust would continue to "act as an industry watchdog" to ensure all products were safe before they were sold in New Zealand.
"At the end of the day, the industry must be able to show that the products they sell are low risk and they should ensure they are sold and distributed in a sensible way," he said.
Mr Hall said K2 had become incredibly popular as a result of strong media focus on it, which meant a lot of first-time consumers were trying it.
"These people are not using it wisely, they're abusing it and we're seeing more harm out there. We didn't want to see any more harm with this particular brand.
"So the brand owner at a very significant cost to them as a player ... have agreed to remove it from the market place."
Mr Hall said he expected the K2 already in stock before the supply was cut would sell out within a fortnight.