Legal 'Crack' on city store shelves

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A new legal high is being sold in shops and dairies around Rotorua as "Crack".

The product is described on its packaging as a "recreational supplement" which can either be smoked in a glass pipe or snorted up the user's nose.

It costs $75 for 200mg but does not come with a pipe, which can be bought for around $20 from some of the product's suppliers.

According to the manufacturer's website Crack is "a crystalline recreational supplement [which] when consumed can produce increased alertness and euphoric feelings".

Crack is also the street name shared by the illegal drugs crack cocaine and methamphetamine.

Product packaging does not list its ingredients or the distributor's details, but gives the chemical registry number for phenethylamine.

Phenethylamine is not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act and is listed as an ingredient in chocolate, weight loss supplements, cocoa and a number of meats.

Rotorua Daily Post readers responded strongly when we posted about Crack on our Facebook page. The posting had record shares and comments, with many upset about the legal high. One commented: "This will get youngsters keen for the real thing". Others said they would try it.

The Crack distributor for the Bay of Plenty spoke to The Daily Post on the condition he remained anonymous.

He said sales of the product in the Bay were going well with about eight to 10 outlets in Rotorua stocking it to date.

"It's obviously a highly controversial product but it comes down to the business owners who stock and sell it and the people who want to buy it."

He said he had sold it to dairy owners, convenience stores, adult shops and anyone else who sells legal highs.

"It's the first smokable and snortable product on the market. It's 100 per cent safe, totally legal and has no side effects, it's a fantastic alternative to methamphetamine, or P."

The distributor admitted the marketing was bold.

"There's no doubt about that, but there is no law against what we are doing and people have a choice to buy it or not."

He said the majority of shops and dairies he had approached did not want to stock the product.

"Legal highs are now part of society, it gives people a way to escape and this is, I believe, an industry that gives people another alternative."

He said it was up to the Government to decide if the product would remain on the market."

Skin Graft owner David Young said he began selling Crack two weeks ago.

"We got about 50 people coming in and asking for it during Raggamuffin so there must be a demand.

"It all seems legit, they are a proper company, but I don't want to try it - I don't even drink."

But, Mr Young said he believed dairies were the wrong place to sell the product.

"I don't think they care who they sell it to. Our rule is to only sell it to over 18s."

He said he was not happy with the packaging but would not be hiding the product under the counter.

"It's a legal alternative because people want something like this without being dodgy about it. If we sold an incense called Crack no one would care," Mr Young said.

Toi Te Ora Medical Officer of Health for the Bay of Plenty Dr Jim Miller declined to comment.

But, National Poisons Centre toxicologist Dr Leo Schep said phenethylamine was a naturally occurring compound which acted as a neurotransmitter in the brain, was present in chocolate and purported to have benefits associated with mood and weight loss.

The Government is in the process of drafting legislation to clamp down on legal highs with new legislation due by August.

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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