Mike Sabin – National MP for Northland
Media Statement – 6 May 2014
‘Legal Highs’ now illegal following urgent law change
Mike Sabin, MP for Northland said he is hoping to see ‘backyard chemists’ and drug peddlers’ who manufacture psychoactive substances put out of business, when he spoke in the urgent passing of legislation to remove the remaining 41 psychoactive substances from the shelves in Parliament tonight.
“Over the last 20 years, countries all over the world have been dealing with an acceleration in the development of new forms of so called ‘recreational drugs’ creating a cat and mouse effect for legislators and authorities trying to respond to the impacts of these drugs, says Mr Sabin, a former police detective and founder of a drug education and policy group.
“This original Bill to deal with these substances was passed last year and was pioneering stuff, as it reversed the burden of proof to the manufacturers and suppliers of substances, meaning they had to demonstrate that what they want to supply is low risk — or it won’t be able to make it to market.
“Up until now the peddlers of these substances have sought to avoid legislation by altering their chemical compounds without any regard for the harm that they may cause, essentially making New Zealand youth the guinea pigs in their science experiments.
“Scores of products with unknown effects and unknown risk profiles have made their way through this gap in the regulatory net and ended up on dairy counters alongside lollies,” says Mr Sabin.
“The law change last year saw the removal of hundreds of products from the shelves and required that they went through a rigorous process to prove they were low risk, but 41 products remained available with temporary approval because they had not been identified as causing harm previously.
“As we all now know, even these products have shown to be harmful and I am delighted to see this legislation enacted to remove the last of these products.
The Bill also removed the provision for animal testing as part of the clinical trial process to prove low harm and will prohibit the use of information which has been derived through the use of animal testing done in New Zealand and off shore.
“This means the drug manufacturers will have to reach a higher standard to advance their products to human clinical trials and I think that’s a good thing. This is not about serving the interests of drug makers, it’s about saying they have to prove they are of low risk and if that costs them millions of dollars and takes years, all the better in my book” says Mr Sabin
“Now that this legislation is passed all the remaining products will have to be off the shelf as at 1201 am on Thursday morning and they won’t be coming back unless they can prove they are low risk. That means they aren’t capable of causing addiction, therefore not capable of creating a high which leads to it, let alone the other harmful psychotic effects.
“This is difficult territory and a challenging area of law that the whole world is struggling with, but today government found a way through and our communities had a win and good on them for standing up and saying no more.
“We should however all remember that the only safe drug use is no drug use. I hope this Bill not only puts suppliers and manufacturers of these substances out of business, but helps change the culture of relying on drug and substance abuse to have fun that synthetic stimulants has helped create.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Mike Sabin 0277052707