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 An amendment will be discussed in parliament on 8 May, so drugs that are currently approved could be withdrawn from the market within a fortnight.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

First pictures of hydrogen bonds unveiled

26 September 2013 Research

news image

Observation of intermolecular interactions in quinolines could help to settle the nature of this kind of bonding

Flowing rivers of mercury

7 January 2015 Feature

news image

Philip Ball investigates claims that the burial chamber of China’s first emperor contains rivers of shimmering mercury

Most Commented

SiRNA treatment cures Ebola in monkeys

23 April 2015 Research

news image

Researchers perform the first successful trial for a drug against the current strain of Ebola

Relativity behind mercury's liquidity

21 June 2013 Research

news image

First evidence that relativistic effects are indeed responsible for mercury's low melting point