K2 will disappear from the shelves.
K2 will be voluntarily withdrawn from sale - at a cost of
millions of dollars to the manufacturer of the synthetic
cannabis product - but the announcement has been greeted with
The Star Trust, which represents the majority of New
Zealand's legal-high companies, yesterday confirmed the most
popular synthetic cannabis product in the southern hemisphere
would be gone from retail shelves within weeks.
Star Trust general manager Grant Hall said the owner of
Lightyears Ahead Ltd - the company behind K2 - was concerned
about the huge spike in use and potential harm if the product
was used incorrectly.
''We know K2 has been causing huge problems in Dunedin, and
we hope the local people in Dunedin are somewhat placated and
feel a little more assured about safety.''
The ban was prompted by ''serious allegations in the media''
in recent months about K2.
The trust recently carried out a North Island retail survey,
which revealed half of first-time K2 consumers were smoking
the product out of curiosity - ''curiosity driven by the
media'', he said.
''Let's be honest. This ban is worth millions of dollars to
the owner of it. To sacrifice it now is a huge impact ... it
is not just about the money.
''We need to show that there is some goodwill here, that the
industry is serious about making this new [Psychoactive
Substances] Bill work and is focused on safety.
''We don't want people abusing this product any more.''
It was hoped the voluntary withdrawal would result in ''a lot
more credibility and a lot more respect from police, the
politicians and the public''.
But police and politicians remained unconvinced.
Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne told the Otago Daily
Times ''a dangerous product will not be in the hands of young
people. Good. I am glad, but how about they remove other
dangerous products and list ingredients on labels and take
real responsibility for their products?
''There is a real feeling of `too little, too late' here, and
the words 'cynical marketing ploy' also come to mind.''
The industry did not have a huge reservoir of credibility and
integrity, and a Bill, which once passed into law will put
the onus on manufacturers to prove the products were safe,
would be in place by August, he said.
Senior Sergeant Chris McLellan, of Dunedin, said the
immediate concern for police was whether the manufacturer was
replacing K2 with a new brand.
Mr Hall declined to name the owner of Lightyears Ahead Ltd,
other than to say he was a New Zealand citizen at present in
Company records show the director of Auckland-based
Lightyears Ahead Ltd is Matthew Wielenga, of Birkdale.
Mr Hall confirmed the brand was the most popular in the
southern hemisphere and that it would be retired.
''It will not be seen anywhere. That is it.''
He rejected a suggestion the withdrawal was just for a
branding change for the product.
''My understanding is the brand owners were going to
re-evaluate being in the market post August 1.''