New Drugs Regime Dunne

New Drugs Regime Dunne

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne is crafting a new legal high law which will be introduced to Parliament later this year and is expected to be in force by the middle of next year. Once passed, the new law will immediately criminalise all psychoactive substances, including synthetic cannabinoids and party pills, until distributors and producers can prove their safety. Distressing as this may seem, Dunne predicts that by 2014 the new measures will in fact put products similar to Kronic back on the shelf at Willowbank.

For the time being, the Temporary Class Drug Notices, which have been used to specifically designate 28 substances as illegal in the past year, will roll over until the permanent law comes in. This leaves no window of opportunity to exploit for the makers of Kronic, who booted up production again in anticipation of the notices expiring.

Until now, substances could only be made illegal if proven harmful. The incoming law flips this on its head – all psychoactive substances will be illegal until proven safe.

A new regulator responsible for issuing approvals will be set up within the Ministry of Health. Companies wishing to sell psychoactive products will have to approach this regulator “with scientific data similar to that which is required for the assessment of new medicines,” Dunne said. This includes toxicology data and results from human clinical trials.

The cost of the approval process for any single substance is estimated to be in the range of $1 million to $2 million, and the process will take between one and two years to complete. The costs to the NZ Government of the new regime are unknown and are currently being assessed, with a report expected to be provided to cabinet in early October.

Ross Bell, executive director of the New Zealand Drug Foundation, told the New Zealand Herald that the proposal is “twenty-second century thinking” and poses very serious questions for society. “What happens when someone invents [the substance] that gets you the high you want, is completely non-addictive... and is safe to drive on,” he ponders. “Is there anything wrong with that?”
This article first appeared in Issue 19, 2012.
Posted 4:49pm Sunday 5th August 2012 by Zane Pocock.