Kronic style drugs are expected to come back onto the market under a new legal high law recently announced by Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne.
In the law Mr Dunne aims to have ready by August next year, legal high manufacturers will have to pay to have their substance proved “low risk”.
His office acknowledged it would create a legal drug market.
“That is the absolute intention behind this regime.
“The problem in the past has been that we had a totally unregulated market with who knows what substances in these products.
“I am quite unapologetic about leading changes that will make things safer for young New Zealanders.”
Proof of safety
Each application would cost up to $2 million and would include animal testing and human trials to ensure the drugs were low risk.
“There may only be one or two approvals in the first year or two,” briefing papers estimate.
Experts say the law will create one of the world’s first open and regulated recreational drug markets with synthetic cannabis making a return.
‘Radical’ and ‘revolutionary”
Massey University drug researcher Dr Chris Wilkins said the system was “revolutionary”.
“Having a government-approved legal high industry is pretty radical.
“New Zealand is the only country in the world going down that path.”
Serious questions for society
New Zealand Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said the proposal was “22nd-century thinking” which posed serious questions for society.
“What happens when someone invents the pill or the powder that gets you the high you want, is completely non-addictive … and is safe to drive on.
“Is there anything wrong with that?”
But a supported solution:
“The new regulations, which place the burden on the industry to prove its products are low risk, are long overdue and are very welcome. The status quo has been an absolute joke,” said Ross Bell.
“We have seen time and time again that when one substance gets banned another similar substance or substances pops up in its place.
“Mr Dunne has helped slay the party pill hydra.”
The law has support of other parties -
Green Party drugs spokesman Kevin Hague said he supported the shift in principle, but the safety standards should not be unrealistically rigorous.
And those in the drug industry:
Designer drug expert Matt Bowden says for parents, it will mean less chance their kids die of an overdose.
He says it will also give consumers a choice between using illegal drugs and using something that’s a lot safer.
Other reports have said the world will be watching to see how this law change works.