report on synthetic cannabis recommends a raft of changes,
including that the products be priced the same as cannabis.
The report, ''Synthetic Cannabinoid Use in New Zealand:
Assessing the harms'', was by Dunedin-based researcher Dr
Geoff Noller and commissioned by the Star Trust, on behalf of
the legal-high industry.
Recommendations for the industry include highlighting the low
level of harm with the product compared to alcohol, and
working with local bodies and the health sector.
The report also recommended monitoring internet sales,
particularly in relation to under-age consumers, and
implementing minimum pricing to avoid increased consumption.
''Prices should be comparable with raw cannabis.''
As part of his work, Dr Noller visited several Dunedin
One shop was selling 7g of synthetic cannabis for $30, or
$4.30 a gram.
''In a market where the alternative product [raw cannabis]
costs almost three times as much and is illegal ... the
option of a legal much cheaper alternative is generally more
than attractive ... but particularly so for young people
likely to have less disposable cash.''
Dr Noller also noted that low prices in Dunedin stores were
by no means universal, ''with other outlets imposing
voluntary minimum pricing equating to about $11/gram, about
the price for which raw cannabis can be purchased on the
Research suggested that more than 95% of synthetic cannabis
consumers were likely to have previously consumed raw
''It seems prudent that until synthetic products can clearly
be shown to be less harmful than raw cannabis, the price of
synthetics should not be lower than for raw cannabis.''
Star Trust general manager Grant Hall said the research
consolidated all the available data from before and after the
passing of the Psychoactive Substances Act in July last year.
Cannabis, either natural or synthetic, was low risk, and the
trust was funding research into the potential of cannabis as
a medicine to treat a wide variety of illnesses.