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New Zealand to Regulate Rather Than Prohibit Synthetic Marijuana

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #678)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

The government of New Zealand plans to regulate and restrict access to legal synthetic cannabinoids, government spokesmen said last week. Under the plan, synthetic cannabinoids could not be sold to people under 18, and they would face regulation of their packaging, marketing, and sales.

New Zealand takes a reasoned approach to fake pot. (Image via Wikimedia)
The government is following the advice of the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs, which reviews controlled drugs and other psychoactive substances and recommends how such substances should be classified. The committee found no basis for banning fake pot, but said it was unacceptable for the products to be available without regulation.

Products containing synthetic cannabinoids have appeared in markets worldwide in recent years, typically sold as "incense" under brand names including Spice and K2. A number of European governments have responded by banning the substances, as has the US DEA, which imposed an emergency ban earlier this year.

Americans states have responded similarly, with more than a dozen of them imposing bans before the DEA acted, and moves are afoot in other state legislatures this year to enact more bans. California, however, responded similarly to what is proposed in New Zealand, banning it only for minors.

Under the New Zealand proposal, in addition to the ban on minors, sales would be banned in places where minors gather and there would be restrictions on advertising. Fake pot products would have to be sold in child-resistant containers and would have to be labeled with the synthetic cannabinoids they contain.

Moving synthetic cannabinoids from an unregulated substance to a restricted substance under the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act of 2005 will require parliamentary approval.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Uruao (not verified)

Now if they could only be this sensible with cannabis itself! For a nation that smokes as much per capita as NZ does, they have remarkably backward laws regarding its prohibition. Not even decrim, for God's sake...

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 3:22am Permalink
E Tricker (not verified)

It's good to hear that the NZ govornment listens to their advisers, unlike the UK, which only listens to what they want to hear and fires anyone who says the truth!

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 12:53pm Permalink
Forlen Ainjull (not verified)

So NZ will legally regulate synthetic cannabinoids, which we know very little about, while continuing to prohibit natural cannabinoids (the cannabis plant), which science has shown to be about as harmless as drugs can get.  Makes you wonder whose smoking the stuff.

Thu, 04/07/2011 - 11:40am Permalink
Heftman (not verified)

In reply to by Forlen Ainjull (not verified)

first earthquakes, now synthetic cannabinoids - how will they survive?

Thu, 04/07/2011 - 11:57am Permalink
ekathulium (not verified)

Read Danny Kushlick's article on "securitization" to realize why democratic debate gets nowhere on this issue.

All the details and links can be found on Transform's website,

Fri, 04/08/2011 - 3:57am Permalink
Homonid (not verified)

While these moves may not make sense to most people, actually this is a good sign. The fact that they have given up adding new drugs to the list of prohibited substances shows they are getting the message. Tax it and regulate it is the most effective way of dealing with new drugs so CHILDREN cannot buy the stuff. Making it ILLEGAL is basically saying we don't mind street dealers SELLING DRUGS TO CHILDREN. Yeah...... effing nazis.

Sat, 04/09/2011 - 10:51pm Permalink
H (not verified)

I think restricting the sale of these things to adults and listing the actives in them is a great move! Good on you NZ! This is the first sign of some sensible drug policy. As long as people are responsible and go easy on the synthetics and get to know their limits, I think they are safer than alcohol. Finally I feel my freedom is being respected! Cannabis is still illegal, and that needs to change, but this is a good sign. All we need now is a few warnings or instructions on the packaging, which I think would reduce the number of first time users smoking too much and having a bad reaction.

Tue, 05/24/2011 - 12:53am Permalink

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