Pubdate: Mon, 28 Apr 2014
Source: Timaru Herald (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2014 Timaru Herald
Author: Esther Ashby-Coventry
Page: 1


All synthetic drugs will be pulled off the shelves within two weeks 
until individual testing has proven each brand is "low-risk", the 
Government has announced.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne told Fairfax Media: "While 
there has been a substantial reduction in the number of these 
products available and the number of outlets from which they can be 
sold, reports of severe adverse reactions continue to be received by 
the National Poisons Centre and Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring.

"It has been impossible to attribute these adverse effects to any 
particular products and in the absence of that ministers accepted my 
recommendation at Cabinet last Tuesday to end the transitional 
period, taking all products with interim approval off the market.

"I will bring to Parliament amending legislation to put this measure 
in place, to be introduced and passed through all stages under 
urgency on May 8 and come into force the day after receiving the Royal Assent."

The legislation would see the remaining 41 products removed from 
shelves until testing had confirmed they carried a low level of risk.

His announcement has taken the wind out of the sails for Labour, 
which was set to release it's own policy on synthetic cannabis tomorrow.

Leader David Cunliffe announced earlier yesterday that Labour would 
also be seeking to introduce a total ban on psychoactive substances 
until testing had proven they were relatively safe. He told Fairfax 
the Government had "fallen asleep at the wheel" over introducing a 
testing regime.

"Had we known 18 months down the track that no regime would yet be in 
place, we would have insisted back then that all drugs had to go 
through the testing process before they were allowed on to the market."

Dunne has said he expected the new laws to be passed within the week, 
and for stock to be pulled off shelves almost immediately.

Cunliffe said Labour would still be announcing its full policy on 
Tuesday, which also included a ban on animal testing.

"I'd call this a victory for the Opposition, rolling the Government 
on a situation that was doing immeasurable harm to young New Zealanders.

"We are pleased that other parties have joined the fight against 
synthetic cannabis, which we have now announced."

The harm caused by the legal highs has been widely reported.

In April last year Timaru mother of two Sue Eade went public about 
her sons using legal highs in the hope she could get the help they needed.

Hers has been a success story, but she fears that taking the legal 
highs off the shelves now is a little too late and she is concerned 
for addicts.

"Those addicted will need a lot of support. Not just those on it but 
their families too," she said.

Taking the drugs that have not been proven safe off the shelf should 
have happened a long time ago, according to Eade.

"The whole country has been affected. There has been a lot of media 
coverage which should have been a wake-up call. If they had done this 
(taken them off the shelves) initially we would not have had so many issues."

There are 150 outlets selling legal highs.

- - Fairfax
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom