Experiment didn’t work

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has announced that  the government will introduce and pass under urgency legislation removing from sale all remaining so called ‘legal highs’.

“While there has been a substantial reduction in the number of these products available and the number of outlets from which they can be sold, reports of severe adverse reactions continue to be received by the National Poisons Centre and Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring” says Mr Dunne.

It has been impossible to attribute these adverse effects to any particular products and in the absence of that ministers accepted my recommendation at cabinet last Tuesday to end the transitional period, taking all products with interim approval off the market.

“I will bring to parliament amending legislation to put this measure in place, to be introduced and passed through all stages under urgency on 8 May and come into force the day after receiving the Royal Assent” says Mr Dunne.

When the legislation was introduced the 41 products which were permitted to be sold were thought to be safe. They aren’t.

The ODT shows the dangers they pose:

Nathan Belcher and Aaron Macahan started using legal highs because that was what everyone else was doing.

But by the time they realised how it badly it was affecting them, it was too late.

The pair could ”easily” smoke four or five bags a day – each.

At $25 a packet, they estimate they spent $7000 on the products just this year.

Their lives followed a pattern of eating, using legal highs and sleeping.  . .

Legalising these drugs was an experiment which hasn’t worked.

Making them illegal won’t get rid of them completely but it will make them much harder to get and get rid of the mistaken perception that they are harmless.

4 Responses to Experiment didn’t work

  1. Andrei says:

    I wonder how “safe” or “unsafe” these things really are?

    There has been a lot of noise about them lately and the Government has had its usual knee jerk reaction.

    Of course the real mistake was made years ago when it was decided that the force of the law should be used to control peoples drug taking behaviour.

    A huge error of judgement, if marijuana hadn’t been banned none of these “legal highs” would have ever come on the market and of course by banning marijuana we ended up creating an illegal drug trade with huge profits and as long as that trade exists, well, new things with new problems will continue to appear….

    You cannot legislate salvation but we will never learn that.

    Sometimes I think our MPs must have taken stupid pills


  2. JC says:

    I read at least one overseas report on the NZ experiment.. the reaction was favourable as there was an opinion that you can’t stop drug taking and regulating it might be a better way to go.

    Oh well..



  3. TraceyS says:

    “Cannabis is one of the most commonly used illicit drugs, and despite the widely held belief that it is a safe drug, its long-term use has potentially harmful consequences. To date, the research on the impact of its use has largely been epidemiological in nature and has consistently found that cannabis use is associated with schizophrenia outcomes later in life, even after controlling for several confounding factors. While the majority of users can continue their use without adverse effects, it is clear from studies of psychosis that some individuals are more vulnerable to its effects than others. In addiction, evidence from both epidemiological and animal studies indicates that cannabis use during adolescence carries particular risk.”

    Casadio, P. Fernandes, C. Murray, R M. Di Fortib, M. Cannabis use in young people: The risk for schizophrenia. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. Vol. 35, 8, August 2011. PP 1779–1787.

    There is recent research underway which seeks to modulate these (and other) negative effects so that people (hopefully not adolescents) can safely enjoy the many positive benefits.

    Until that process has progressed, let’s not use the synthetic cannabis argument as an excuse to legalise marijuana.


  4. TraceyS says:

    “if marijuana hadn’t been banned none of these “legal highs” would have ever come on the market”

    I can’t agree with you there, Andrei. If marijuana hadn’t been banned, its use would be more widespread by now, and tolerance would be higher among users. That would lead to either stronger drugs, or chemicals which antagonise brain cells to react better to the marijuana, ie. the exact same kinds of chemicals now appearing in legal highs.

    Marijuana’s active content is highly variable. People like consistency. How long before dope is getting sprayed with something lab-made to make it more uniform? Probably already going on. After all, that’s how we use chemicals in food – normally for positive effect.

    Of course the state could get involved…http://www.cbsnews.com/news/uruguays-government-may-become-first-to-sell-marijuana/

    Like you said, “you cannot legislate salvation” I agree with that. People take drugs because they’ve got problems. Real ones which can’t be legislated away…


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