Problems in South prompt K2 ban

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has ordered a temporary ban on a synthetic cannabis ingredient in the legal high K2 in reponse to reports of bad side-effects among users in Otago and Southland.

The temporary class drug notice was issued following the identification of a substance known as EAM-2201in two K2 products seized by police.

Legal high K2 has been causing concern in the lower South Island, said Mr Dunne.

Recorded effects include vomiting, agitation, drowsiness, psychosis, hallucinations, headache, seizures and tremors.

K2 will now be subject to a temporary drug notice beginning December 6, from when it will be illegal to import, manufacture, sell or supply the substance.

"The Health Ministry considers that EAM-2201 poses a risk at least comparable to other already banned synthetic cannabis substances, therefore I have made the decision that it needs to be banned," said Mr Dunne.

"This is clearly not a product we want in the market place, and the fact that it is on the market tells you that we have an industry that does not give a damn about the safety of its customers.

"Any product containing EAM-2201must be off the market under this order, which will stay in force for 12 months."

A permanent psychoactive substances regime will be in place by the middle of next year, said Mr Dunne, meaning manufacturers and distributors will have to prove their products are safe before they are allowed to sell to retailers.

Products that pass will still come with age and other restrictions.

"The regime will fix this industry once and for all and make it comply with proper standards," he said.

"K2 is just another example of why you cannot trust these people to self-regulate and conduct themselves responsibly."

In August last year the Government introduced temporary class drug notices that have forced 28 substances and more than 50 synthetic cannabis products off the market.

The notices resulted in a dramatic drop in calls to the centre, from a high of 16 in July to one in October last year.

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