Dunne signals R18 ban on synthetic cannabinoid substances

  • Peter Dunne

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne today delivered a strong warning to anyone selling synthetic cannabinoid substances that the Government is going to tighten up on their products, including making it illegal to sell them to those under 18.

He said a number of controls are to be placed around products containing synthetic substances producing similar effects to cannabis. 

“The Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs (EACD) says it is unacceptable for products containing these substances to be widely available without controls placed on their packaging, marketing and sale, and I fully agree,” Mr Dunne said.

The committee has recommended restricting all synthetic substances with cannabinomimetic effects under the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act 2005. 

”I have accepted the committee’s advice on this.”

In order for the committee’s advice to be implemented, an amendment Act, which allows hazardous substances to also be classified as restricted substances must be passed. This is currently before Parliament awaiting its second reading.

“The legislation will allow the Government to put in place controls to prevent the sale of these products to young people, aggressive marketing and generally cut their widespread availability. 

”I have instructed the Ministry of Health to begin the process of putting the necessary controls in place. I expect these changes to come into effect next year.

”In the meantime, I am putting traders in these products on notice that it is irresponsible to market, sell or offer to sell to anyone under the age of 18. 

“My advice for anyone considering using any unregulated substance is to avoid them completely,” Mr Dunne said.

Background information:

Smoking products such as “Spice”, Kronic”, Aroma” and “Dream” are available in New Zealand from ‘party pill’ outlets, online retailers and an increasing number of dairies and convenience stores. 

Some products are identified as ‘herbal smoking blends’ or ‘legal highs’. These products contain vegetable matter that has been treated with synthetic cannbinomimetic substances to create products that can be bought and smoked to produce psychoactive effects similar to those of cannabis. 

A number of products have been tested and found to contain substances from the naphthoylindole chemical group, including JWH-018 (1-pentyl-3-(1-naphthoyl)indole) and JWH-073 (1-butyl-3-(1-naphthoyl)indole). 

Once the amendment is passed, cannbinomimetic substances will be added to the restricted substances schedule and the controls outlined below will then apply to the synthetic cannabinoids. 

Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act 2005 

The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act 2005 and the Misuse of Drugs (Restricted Substances) Regulations 2008 provide controls around the marketing and availability of restricted substances. These controls include:

  • A minimum purchase ages of 18 years
  • Prohibitions on free of charge distribution or the offering of such products as a reward
  • Restrictions limiting all advertising (except internet-based advertising) to only the inside of a premises selling restricted substances and a requirement that such advertising not be visible or audible from outside such premises
  • Prohibitions on selling such products from any venue with a liquor licence, or from service stations, or from non-fixed premises such as caravans or street carts
  • Prohibitions on selling such products from places where children or minors gather, including but not limited to, schools, recreational facilities and sporting facilities
  • Requirements for all products to contain warning labels, including warning against driving or operating machinery following use, and contact details of the manufacturer and the National Poisons Centre
  • Requirements for all products to clearly state the synthetic cannabinomimetic substances they contain on the packet
  • Requirements that all such products be sold in child resistant and tamper-proof containers.