NEW rules regarding party pills and synthetic cannabis means those caught with illegal products will be fined, and those making “legal highs” must pay large fees to gain approval.
It will cost makers $180,000 in application and fees and up to $2 million in testing costs for each product they want to sell from August 2013.
Other new penalties for those found selling banned products include jail terms of up to eight years, associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said.
Dairies will no longer be able to sell legal high products, they will be restricted to those aged over 18, and anyone caught with an unapproved product will be fined $300.
Mr Dunne says he makes no apologies for setting the bar high and placing the costs on the legal highs industry, not the consumer.
“The concern about these synthetic highs has always been, can people be safe using them,” he told Radio New Zealand.
“I think the bar’s been set extremely high – the cost figure alone will put off a number of manufacturers and the fact that the process is likely to be a lengthy one – so I think all of these things act as constraints.”
Matt Bowden, an industry spokesman, consultant, and who owns shares in a company that makes synthetic cannabinoids, says the costs won’t drive legal highs out of the market completely.
“The costs of testing are within the budget for research and development for pharmaceutical companies rather than mum-and-dad coffee shops operating from the back shed.
“But we will see outcomes which will give us safer alternatives to the dangerous drugs, and that’s been shown to be the only real solution to the black market and dangerous drugs industry.”