Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Illegal Highs

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  • debunk,

    May I be wrong, but see big chemical test and business compensation costs looming. Pity Govt didn't ensure chemical tests first to establish product safety and compare with British data which seems well established (Ramsey discussion earlier). Heard the Startrust manager (?) in Europe this morning talking to Morning Report. Not sounding happy with this turn of events.

    New Zealand • Since Aug 2012 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie,

    I've just come back from a week in Colorado, looking at the effects of legalisation there. I'll write a post about it as soon as I have time, but spoiler alert: there were no naked people in trees setting fire to their children.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Grant McDougall,

    David Cunliffe was “playing politics”

    The quote that got me this morning - was Cunliffe's surprised sounding comment to the effect that 'if he'd known all it took to get the Government to do something was to issue a policy statement to the media, he'd have done more of it...'
    I do hope he was joking - that is totally what an opposition should be doing constantly, and before an election it definitely helps people get a handle on what change they might bring about, and whether to vote for them...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7944 posts Report Reply

  • debunk, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Who'd have thought a National government would close down a whole lot of small businesses legally established through its very own clever world beating legislation?

    New Zealand • Since Aug 2012 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Ray Gilbert,

    National has placed a candidate from the tobacco industry in the safe seat of Clutha-Southland.

    Now we know where The Butt Stops then...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7944 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The Drug Foundation's press statement just now:

    Use powers in existing law says Drug Foundation

    The announcement of changes to the Psychoactive Substances Act to remove currently approved ‘legal highs’ from sale is disappointing due to its political nature, and will lead to stockpiling and black-market sales the New Zealand Drug Foundation said.

    “The law already allows for the removal of psychoactive products from the market if it can be shown they are causing harm. This is just politicians playing politics at a time when we need a measured response to a very complex issue,” New Zealand Drug Foundation Executive Director Ross Bell said.

    “Rather than rush an amendment through Parliament under urgency, the Psychoactive Substance Act can be used to identify the products which are causing harm and these can be removed from sale.

    “The National Poisons Centre and the Centre for Adverse Reaction Monitoring are collecting data on which products are causing harm. Using their information we can ascertain which products are the ones that are causing such concern in our communities.”

    Mr Bell said that using the law as it was originally intended would avoid the negative effects that an immediate ban would result in.

    “As we’ve seen before with previous bans, retailers hold firesales for products and consumers stockpile those. There’s an added risk that people will binge, or use higher quantities prior to the ban. Predictably, many of these products will make it onto the black market, over which the government has little control.

    “This is disappointing considering we reached an uncontroversial political consensus on the way forward only 10 months ago.”

    Mr Bell said that the Government now has an obligation to support those who chose to stop using psychoactive products and to closely monitor the soon to be unapproved substances.

    “Extra support needs to be made available to the people who chose to stop using psychoactive products as the ban comes into place,” Mr Bell said.

    “It is important that we help these people out and ensure that they can access detox and help services.

    “Ensuring these people get help will also ensure that demand for these products is lowered over all.”

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Damian Christie,

    I’ve just come back from a week in Colorado, looking at the effects of legalisation there. I’ll write a post about it as soon as I have time, but spoiler alert: there were no naked people in trees setting fire to their children.

    Welcome back! Really looking forward to reading that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Use powers in existing law says Drug Foundation

    The real money quote is down the line a bit…

    Mr Bell said that the Government now has an obligation to support those who chose to stop using psychoactive products and to closely monitor the soon to be unapproved substances.

    “Extra support needs to be made available to the people who chose to stop using psychoactive products as the ban comes into place,” Mr Bell said.

    Ross is absolutely right, but I'm cynical enough to think that support is expensive, long-term and hard to get a glib soundbite out of so don't your breath waiting. Who wants to bet that in a year or so, there are going to be stories about severely under-resourced support services on the brink of collapse that won't get much play because everyone's moved on to the next moral panic.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Mellopuffy,

    A friend who is a psychiatrist stated on FB this morning that she was disappointed that she wasn't rostered on to work today, as no doubt the mood would be celebratory amongst her colleagues following this weekend's announcement. In a discussion we had about the Act last week, she recounted major issues with patients becoming threatening and aggressive towards staff and other patients whilst high on the synthetic products, and that their legal status was a significant barrier to the staff and police preventing patients from using them (unlike cannabis). So how can the regulatory process be adapted to account for substances that may be harmless (or not) for the average user, but that become mjorly problematic for people with psychiatric illness or on psych meds. And before some smartass mentions alcohol, please note that alcohol (and weed) consumption is a hell of a lot easier for medical staff and police to monitor or control than tiny pills.

    Dunedin, NZ • Since Feb 2007 • 63 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Props to Bomber for showing up Trevor Mallard for the know-nothing he is.

    Mallard just pulled his "no one is ever jailed for pot possession" out of his ass -- and carried on even after he was shown evidence of how wrong he is.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Mellopuffy,

    I'm hearing a few stories about black-market products -- including the problematic already-banned ones. Exactly what's going on out there is not entirely evident.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • william blake,

    Attachment

    Dunne's high horse.

    Since Mar 2010 • 380 posts Report Reply

  • Samuel Buckman,

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but as I understand it, the Psychoactive Substances Act means that companies must prove that their drug meets safety standards before it can go on to the market.
    To do that, they must do clinical trials in which they expose the participants to harm, in a trial which is not expected to produce results that will be of significance to medical practice.
    Surely then, these trials should not be able to receive ethics committee approval.
    So doesn't the Act effectively ban all new psychoactive substances?

    Auckland • Since Apr 2014 • 16 posts Report Reply

  • Matt Crawford,

    I have been wondering how the regulatory authority overseeing this process was getting on.

    It’s run by the Ministry of Health.

    The act was passed in July 2013.

    The job search for the manager of this unit started on 22 April 2014. That’s like, last week. Jobs.Govt.NZ

    It might be useful if someone could ask the ministers responsible for this [Ryall and Dunne?] why the urgent implementation of this act has been so delayed.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2006 • 58 posts Report Reply

  • Jackson James Wood, in reply to Samuel Buckman,

    Correct me if I'm wrong

    Okay: You are correct that the law means companies must prove their drugs meets safety standards before they can go on the market. However, products that were already on sale in the three months prior to the Psychoactive Substances Act passing were given an interim period where they could be sold if they a) applied for an interim license and b) deemed low-risk a risk assessment model developed by the Ministry of Health. c) continued to be deemed low risk and were not reported to the Psychoactive Substances Authority as causing harm. If a product is/was reported, then an investigation would be carried out and the product could lose license.

    The interim period is a stop gap so not to push people or the products to the black market.

    To address the rest out of order:

    So doesn't the Act effectively ban all new psychoactive substances?

    Kinda. It deems them "unapproved products" and flips the onus of proof onto the manufacturer. They can't legally sell without out a license. You get a license through clincal testing. This leads me to the middle point you made.

    Surely then, these trials should not be able to receive ethics committee approval.

    Which is why the Ministry of Health needed to set up a regulatory framework for this testing process which would resemble clinical trials but would be specific to this regime.

    New Zealand • Since May 2011 • 21 posts Report Reply

  • Jackson James Wood, in reply to Matt Crawford,

    You should apply.

    New Zealand • Since May 2011 • 21 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to william blake,

    Dunne’s high horse.

    Is it an elevated
    Equus caballus
    or beast of burden
    Equus asinus
    or is it that bray
    new world confusion,
    the Dunnekey

    ???

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7944 posts Report Reply

  • Andre,

    A friend of mine works for a legal high retailer. He has befriended many of his customers and some have his phone number. When he is late to work his phone runs off the hook. He arrives to a crowd of angry customers threatening to knock down the doors of the shop. Most of his sales are made in the first two hours of opening. The products they are retailing may be slightly different to those originally approved under the regime but there is no testing of the prodyucts so this is covered up. He reports having seen many people go downhill over the time they are taking the product as they become addicted to it. Many customers literally show up in their pyjamas. They have no motivation other than to get stoned, go to bed, get out of bed to go to the shop then back home to bed again.
    Other users are fine apparently - you wouldn't know they are users.
    Many people can't handle their alcohol. while others have no problem. Many people have adverse reactions to marijuana and only take it once and vow never to again. The latter group don't go to hospital because what they're doing is illegal. they just crash out and wake up okay. My friends who work in mental health have horror stories to tell about legal highs. But I think the numbers involved aren't that high considering the massive amount of the drugs that are being sold.
    I do wonder what will happen once the product is pulled off the shelves. They won't turn to alcohol - they will turn back to the gang-run tinnie houses that must have all disappeared in Colorado. It is embarrassing that some states of the USA are more enlightened than us when it comes to this problem.

    New Zealand • Since May 2009 • 365 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Mellopuffy,

    alcohol (and weed) consumption is a hell of a lot easier for medical staff and police to monitor or control than tiny pills

    that new alcohol powder mentioned on te radio last week sounds problematic.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Andre,

    But I think the numbers involved aren’t that high considering the massive amount of the drugs that are being sold.

    Yeah, this is interesting. The rest of us have had no idea quite how large the market has been and it only became apparent when we made everyone go to the same shop. Also: what your story says about dependence is scary.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Andre,

    The products they are retailing may be slightly different to those originally approved under the regime but there is no testing of the products so this is covered up.

    And testing is something that's supposed to happen under this law.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Mellopuffy,

    And before some smartass mentions alcohol, please note that alcohol (and weed) consumption is a hell of a lot easier for medical staff and police to monitor or control than tiny pills.

    Because the sale of alcohol is regulated, perhaps? Not perfectly, but it is.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2933 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Mallard just pulled his “no one is ever jailed for pot possession” out of his ass – and carried on even after he was shown evidence of how wrong he is.

    You need to contrast between those sent to prison for drug possession alone, and those sent to prison for burglary and drug possession or receiving stolen goods and drug possession. None of the statistics quoted make this distinction. I am confident that many (I suspect most, and perhaps not far short of all) people given a prison sentence for simple possession are serving that prison sentence simultaneously with a prison sentence for some other, more serious, offence.

    There will be some who have served a prison term because, for example, of failure to comply with a community sentence given for drug possession, but people sentenced to prison for drug possession and nothing more will be very few.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    I am confident

    because those statistics are published?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Sacha,

    because those statistics are published?

    I have just OIAed the stats, but my confidence comes from knowing how criminal sentencing works. e.g. Police suspect someone is a burglar, and get a search warrant to search for stolen goods. In the course of the search they find some drugs (getting money for this may have been the reason for the burglary). They charge both. The person gets two years for burglary and one month for the possession charge, to be served simultaneously.

    Will happen with a bunch of offences. Drunken assault in a pub or street. Police arrest and conduct a search incident to arrest, find drug utensils etc. When you get to sentencing it all comes out in the wash. You can't sentence someone to community work if they're going to prison for something else, and it would be wrong to fine them (just setting them up to fail when they're released), so they get short sentence for the minor offending.

    I'm not saying that this is every case. But I do think it will be a lot of them. And hopefully we'll know in 20 working days or so.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

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