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New legal highs on their way despite bill

By Hamish McNeilly

Photo / Brett Phibbs
Photo / Brett Phibbs

A new generation of legal highs could be hitting shelves this summer, an industry lobbyist says.

The Psychoactive Substances Bill, which will puts the onus of safety on manufacturers, is expected to be passed into law next week.

But that has not stopped those in the industry from testing new products, which look "pretty promising", Star Trust general manager Grant Hall said.

He confirmed some of those tests involved vaporisers, a device used to inhale psychoactive substance "into your system with minimal damage".

The products, at present being investigated by three New Zealand legal high companies, would be similar to e-cigarettes but would deliver synthetic cannabinoids to the user.

Last month, industry-organised focus groups used vaporisers, "which were very successful, enjoyed and appreciated by the human guinea pigs".

"We are pretty confident products will pass. It is ridiculous to think you can sell tobacco and alcohol but not one of these low-risk products," he said yesterday.

Mr Hall said preliminary toxicology tests indicated the new products would meet the new government standard of being "low risk".

That standard would be tested when the first application for a licence to manufacture under the new law was made, he said.

On the first day of the new regulation, "a whole lot of manufacturers will be applying for a licence".

"As soon as that bill is enacted and we understand all the protocols and requirements and we get the application forms in ... testing will begin immediately."

Those manufacturers will then have a set period to validate their low-risk claim, and "they will still be able to supply that product to the market, albeit through a very limited channel".

That was likely to include some synthetic cannabis brands, he said.

Any product that satisfied the new requirements would not be able to be sold to those under 18, or from dairies, and the plain packaged products would contain advice such as contact details for the National Poisons Centre.

Mr Hall said the new products were likely to impact on illegal drugs, "obviously, diminishing the black market in New Zealand for illicit drugs ... we hope that happens".

The industry also had set up a synthetic cannabis amnesty for dairies, with legal high companies to take back any unsold product at cost plus freight when the bill is passed into law.

- NZ Herald

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