The drug believed to have been taken by a group of soldiers has now been reclassified in anti-drug laws -- a move that will attract stiffer penalties for lawbreakers.
Designer drug "N-bomb" is presently covered by psychoactive substance legislation but that will soon change, Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne announced today.
Last month eight men, including a number of soldiers, were placed into police custody and admitted to hospital after suffering effects from an unknown substance they'd taken in Palmerston North.
NZME News Service understands the men took the illegal synthetic drug N-bomb. The drug has been linked to deaths worldwide and left a Christchurch man in a critical condition last month.
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Mr Dunne acknowledged the risk today, saying three types of the drug posed a health risk and would soon be covered by the Misuse of Drugs Act.
He said last month, 14 people were hospitalised in New Zealand suffering the after effects of taking the LSD-like substances.
Under the changes, people caught possessing the three types of N-bomb can be jailed for three months or fined $500. Those caught dealing can be sent to prison for 14 years.
"Earlier this year the World Health Organisation considered reviews of these three substances, and found they were an especially serious risk to public health and society, were of no recognised therapeutic use, and were being manufactured clandestinely," he said.
"The [N-bomb] family has been illegal under the Psychoactive Substances Act since July 2013 and there have been prosecutions successfully bought under that legislation, but I am pleased that now the stiffer penalties of the Misuse of Drugs Act will apply."
Other similar drugs would be caught under legislation as Class C drugs, while anti-psychoactive substance laws were also still in force.
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