When asked if she’d ever smoked cannabis, Helen Clark replied that she’d been an Auckland student in the 6os. That was taken to mean yes.
I don’t know if that is a reflection on the decade or the university but I was an Otago student in the 70s and had nothing to do with the taking or not of illegal drugs.
I smelt marijuana a few times, knew people who smoked it occasionally and had I tried to find some I probably could have. But I didn’t and, at least in the circles I frequented, smoking pot was not the norm.
But the idea that everyone did it and that smoking illicit substances is normal still persists which might be partly responsible for the problem of synthetic cannabinoids. In spite of sales being restricted to people 18 and over, Kronic and similar substances are fairly freely available to younger teens.
However, that is about to change. Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne announced that cabinet has approved legislation which will ban synthetic cannabis products.
Cabinet has today approved amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill that will take 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, he said.
The Government has already signalled that it is looking at the Law Commission recommendation to reverse the onus of proof and require the industry to prove its products are safe.
The current Bill allowing the temporary bans is expected to pass into law this week, he said.
“We are going to create temporary class drug orders that will allow me to place a 12-month ban on these currently unregulated psychoactive substances and any new ones that come along.
“The bottom line is that these products are generally untested and we do not know the long-term effects of their use and we are not about to just let it all happen and pick up damaged young people at the end,” Mr Dunne said.
Previous legislation banned particular drugs. This time it will cover any unregulated drugs and reverse the onus of proof so that the safety of any new substances will have to be proved before they can be sold legally.
This will almost certainly create a black market but it will also send a strong signal that there’s nothing normal about selling mind-damaging substances, especially those aimed at young people.