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 An amendment will be discussed in parliament on 8 May, so drugs that are currently approved could be withdrawn from the market within a fortnight.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

European parliament backs new rules on legal highs

24 April 2014 News and Analysis

news image

Proposed regulations would make banning new designer drugs quicker and easier

'Legal high' production gathers pace

4 June 2013 News and Analysis

news image

New report highlights rapid growth in designer drugs fuelling fears that they could cause many deaths

Most Read

Higher levels of some metals in e-cigarette smoke

8 September 2014 Research

news image

Scientists call for regulators to help clear smoke and mirrors surrounding vaping safety

Isotope effect produces new type of chemical bond

22 October 2014 Research

news image

Evidence emerges for vibrational bond first proposed 30 years ago

Most Commented

Higher levels of some metals in e-cigarette smoke

8 September 2014 Research

news image

Scientists call for regulators to help clear smoke and mirrors surrounding vaping safety

Not all science is created equal

16 October 2014 Comments

news image

John Ioannidis explains why researchers should be curious about the differences between disciplines