New Zealand in legal highs U-turn


Politicians in New Zealand have decided to ban designer drugs from sale in the country, reversing an earlier decision to approve low risk drugs while new laws are put in place.

The new Psychoactive Substances Act – passed last year – will allow new psychoactive drugs (‘legal highs’) to be sold legally as long as their manufacturers carry out clinical trials and demonstrate they are safe. The first phase of the plan saw 41 substances – those thought to be the least harmful – given temporary approval as part of a ‘transitional period’ to the new laws.

But the government has now suspended these approvals, saying that all legal highs should be banned until they have been proven to be low risk. Health minister Peter Dunne said this was because of a recent increase in reports of adverse side-effects potentially linked to these substances. An amendment will be discussed in parliament on 8 May, so drugs that are currently approved could be withdrawn from the market within a fortnight.

The transitional period was originally introduced to prevent a black market for legal highs developing, and the newly announced ban seems to contradict the government’s earlier stance. It is unclear how this will affect the overall plan for legalisation.


Related Content

UK launches universal ban on legal highs

29 May 2015 News and Analysis

news image

The government will make it illegal to sell any psychoactive substance in a bid to crack down on designer drugs

Warnings that proposed UK blanket ban on 'legal highs' casts net too wide

8 June 2015 News and Analysis

news image

Experts concerned by vague definitions and effect on neuroscience research

Most Read

Super-elastic wire stretches without losing power

23 July 2015 Research

news image

Fibre that can stretch 14 times its own length could find its way into robotic arms and satellites

Weaving is believing

23 July 2015 The Crucible

news image

Philip Ball unpicks the history of science’s woollen wardrobe

Most Commented

Scientist imprisoned over fraudulent HIV vaccine research

6 July 2015 News and Analysis

news image

Former Iowa State University researcher gets four-and-a-half years in prison for faking vaccine research funded by the NIH

Single polymer pill could deliver entire drug course in one go

27 July 2015 Research

news image

Flexible elastomer ring springs open to stay in stomach and could slowly release drugs over days