The legal high market

August 23rd, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Dozens of synthetic cannabis brands have been cleared for sale by health regulators, despite some containing chemicals linked to psychosis.

Note the difference between the drug being linked and a chemical within it being linked.

On Wednesday, the same day that police charged the first person with selling synthetic cannabis illegally, the Ministry of Health cleared nearly 50 shops to continue to sell similar, but approved, legal highs.

The ministry says 28 legal-high brands have now received interim approval. Approval was given if the brand had been on the market for more than three months without users reporting any serious adverse side-effects.

A sensible approach.

Grant Hall, of legal-high industry body Star Trust, said the brands received only a provisional tick and many would probably not pass the higher hurdle for permanent approval later in the year.

However, the bad side-effects associated with synthetic-cannabis products had been overblown, particularly when compared with alcohol, he said. “By any measure, these products are incredibly low risk.”

Yeah, there is almost a hysterical lynch mob mentality forming in some areas around them.

The products can be sold only through approved stores, with 46 shops receiving interim licences as of yesterday. Another 147 can continue to trade while their applications are being assessed.

In Wellington, 21 retailers can still legally sell synthetic cannabis.

Ten companies have also received interim licences to manufacture legal highs, seven to research them, and 23 to sell them wholesale.

That’s a surprisingly high number of manufacturers, researchers and wholesalers. I wonder what the total turnover of the market is?

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11 Responses to “The legal high market”

  1. nickb (3,686 comments) says:

    Lucky that Peter “Anderton” Dunne can’t get anywhere near this anymore.

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  2. backster (2,152 comments) says:

    The onus of proof was said to be on the maker to prove the product was safe, but it seems the only proof required is that customers have not advised any ill effects from usage.

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  3. Jack5 (5,055 comments) says:

    Why is it taking so long to bring in the permanent approval tests?

    If Possum Pete hadn’t been so engrossed with his cellphone, perhaps this problem wouldn’t have arisen.

    To say if no-one reports side effects for three months a drug should be able to be sold legally is a joke. Cocaine and amphetamine would probably pass that regime.

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  4. b1gdaddynz (279 comments) says:

    I heard that some shops are turning over $40,000+ a week so potentially 193 x $40,000 = $7,720,000 a week; $7,880,000 x 52 = $401,440,000 per year! That could be just the tip of the iceberg though.

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  5. Griff (7,520 comments) says:

    What is safe?
    What is the socially acceptable level of risk?
    Other recreational intoxicants that are legal would seem the logical bench mark.
    The level of harm to not only the user but society as a whole should be objectively included into any assessment of harm.
    http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2810%2961462-6/abstract
    Should be the stating point for any debate over the safety and status of legal or illegal intoxicants.

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  6. wikiriwhis business (3,883 comments) says:

    you still believe your govt…..that’s just adorable

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  7. Jack5 (5,055 comments) says:

    Griff posted:

    …Should be the stating point for any debate over the safety and status of legal or illegal intoxicants…

    Alcohol sellers operate in a licensing regime more rigid than corner dairies’ being able to sell a drug if no-one reports a problem with it for three months, and alcohol producers pay a duty on their product that at least makes a token payment towards the costs to taxpayers and ratepayers of alcohol abuse.

    Possum Pete will be remembered for the disgracefully slow implementation of controls on party drugs.

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  8. Jack5 (5,055 comments) says:

    Griff, further to your 11.26 post and link.

    No argument with you or Lancet that alcohol has the most effects on society of any drug. However, alcohol already has a framework for control, with licensing of retailers and wholesalers, and controls on producers.

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  9. Griff (7,520 comments) says:

    No argument with a frame work of control or licensing as long as it is based on fact not nee jerk reactions to over hyped propaganda from anti drug campaigners.
    You will find that only r18 shops are allowed a license so dairy’s are not selling highs legally.

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  10. leftyliberal (646 comments) says:

    “By any measure, these products are incredibly low risk.”

    To be fair, this is _compared to other drugs such as alcohol_.

    With that said, personally I think the solution is legalising, regulating and taxing (with regard to risk) marijuana, and decriminalising drugs generally. i.e. an evidence based policy.

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  11. goldnkiwi (1,281 comments) says:

    In my opinion there are two or three arguments

    1. The synthetic product has a greater effect than natural cannabis products, so is more desirable.

    2. People that want a smoke that consider themselves ‘citizens’ and otherwise law abiding, want to get ‘legally’ high without having to associate with gangs or growing it themselves illegally, with the attendant issues if caught.

    3. Both

    Why do we want to criminalize otherwise law abiding citizens?
    Most of the rhetoric seems to be about the people presenting with issues, there hasn’t been any hard evidence has there that the synthetic cannabis was the sole cause or the cause at all?

    My two cents worth on the subject. Now that there will be able to be proper labelling, there will be instructions for use. This was very difficult when a product is labelled not for human consumption or titled incense.
    My understanding is that a little can go a long way.
    Anecdotally…packaging, if the product comes in a resealable bag, then potentially the consumption of the whole purchase would not be necessitated because you wouldn’t be worried that it was going to tip out in your pocket.

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