Untested legal highs back on sale - "a disgrace ... unacceptable"

Monday 23 September 2013, 4:26PM

By Auckland Chamber of Commerce


“Granting official licences to retailers to sell more than 20 untested brands of synthetic cannabis is a disgrace,” says Auckland Chamber of Commerce head Michael Barnett.

In July 2011, an Auckland Chamber survey of members drew more than a thousand responses within 24 hours supporting an overhaul of the drug laws to require all drug products to have to prove their safety before they could be sold.

Mr Barnett said today he intends undertaking a campaign with Chamber support in the light of the latest developments which he finds unacceptable.

“As business owners and parents we are seeing the futures of young people destroyed and as employers the employability of young people damaged and families in disarray as a result of these drugs.”

Saturday’s  Herald states - "the Ministry of Health has defended the temporary approval of the drugs, saying they appear to be relatively low risk and will have to pass stringent tests if they are to go on sale permanently.”

The drugs have become legal for now under the Psychoactive Substances Act, which came into force two months ago. The new law banned sales of synthetic drugs from dairies and other convenience stores, but allows sales from specialist shops if makers can prove their products are low risk, but the regulations setting standards may not be ready until next year.

In the meantime, the ministry is allowing 107 retailers to continue selling 28 brands of drugs - all apparently variations of synthetic cannabis - until scientists can determine what the tests should be.

“In my language this says that in the meantime we can continue to experiment with the lives of our young people, their families and their futures. This is totally naïve and unacceptable

“I feel strongly about this.” He is seeking Chamber members support to approach the government and object to this use of young people's lives as test beds for drugs instead of insisting they have a rigorous testing regime before they are allowed on the NZ market.

“I find it incredulous that authorities continue to allow themselves to be outwitted by the producers of these products,” said Mr Barnett.