New Zealand’s Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne has announced a new system for regulating synthetic highs.  Due to come into effect next year, the regime places the onus on the legal high industry to prove their products are safe before they go on sale. The approval process will be similar to that used for medicines and will include pre-clinical toxicology testing and human clinical trials. The results of these will be considered by a regulatory body to be set up within the Ministry of Health.

If this body decides a product poses too great a risk to people’s health, it will be classified under the Misuse of Drugs Act. The substance will then be treated like any other illicit drug, complete with penalties for possession and supply.  If a substance is deemed to be sufficiently low risk, then the regulatory body will issue a licence and it can then be manufactured and sold. The sale of any approved substance is likely to be subject to conditions such as a purchase age and pricing regulations.

For more information, please read the Cabinet papers and Regulatory Impact Statements or visit the New Zealand Drug Foundation’s media release on the new regime.

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