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News (Media Awareness Project) - New Zealand: Synthetic Cannabis Sold Illegally In City
Title:New Zealand: Synthetic Cannabis Sold Illegally In City
Published On:2011-08-20
Source:Southland Times (New Zealand)
Fetched On:2011-08-23 06:01:44

The law forcing retailers to take synthetic cannabis off the shelves
has come into force, but at least one Invercargill retailer was still
selling it to customers yesterday.

A Southland Times reporter was able to buy a small bag of Purple Haze
for $20 from Invercargill shop Impuls'd yesterday - two days after
retailers were meant to have pulled synthetic cannabis products from
their shelves.

The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill, which came into effect on
Wednesday, has taken Kronic and other synthetic cannabis products off
the market for 12 months while the Government works on its detailed
response to the Law Commission's recent report into the drug.

The Government announced the temporary ban earlier this year, after
widespread concern about the lack of controls in place around the
product's sale and the unknown health risks associated with its use.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has in the past taken a tough
stance on the issue, but yesterday said it was up to police to
investigate cases of retailers who had failed to pull the product from

"This is a straightforward enforcement issue, and it would appear that
in this instance, it is a retailer knowing full well what the law is
and making a choice to sell the product in an under-the-counter
fashion. In such instances, as with the enforcement of any other law,
the authorities should be informed and the matter dealt with," he said.

Southland area commander Inspector Lane Todd said police had not had
to warn any retailers and were not aware of any believed to be
breaching the bill since the law came into effect earlier this week.

Police had been proactive in making sure retailers were fully aware of
the requirements under the bill, and would be doing spot-checks to
ensure regulations were complied with, he said.

"We will be closely monitoring it, but having said that we've had good
buy-in from the retailers so far."

But one expert said he believed the ban was just a "Band-Aid" for the
problem, and warned the drug industry would quickly find something to
take Kronic's place.

New Zealand Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said
yesterday that until the Government reviewed the "obsolete"
36-year-old drug legislation, and changed it so the onus to prove
"legal highs" were safe fell on retailers, not lawmakers, the same
problem would continue to crop up - as had been shown when BZP was
banned several years ago.

"The industry said they'd have something on the shelves the very next
day, and they did," he said.

But he was unsure if banning Kronic would mean there was a spike in
the "black market" of synthetic cannabis products, he said.

"If people are wanting to get their hands on a cannabis-like high,
they'll probably get their hands on cannabis."

In the meantime, retailers tempted to continue selling Kronic needed
to be aware that, if caught, they would face the same penalties as if
convicted of selling other Class C drugs, including cannabis, Mr Bell

Anybody convicted of importing, manufacturing or supplying Class C
drugs could face the "fairly serious" penalty of up to eight years in

Attempts to contact Impuls'd owners Warren and Angela Skill were
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