A new synthetic drug
called Crack is being sold at Auckland dairies - with one
outlet even offering to sell glass pipes to people who buy
the white powder.
The product has been condemned as irresponsible by the Drug
Foundation, illicit drug users and a pioneer of the legal
Crack is sold under the street name shared by the illegal
drugs crack cocaine and methamphetamine, and comes in a clear
plastic bag in a cardboard packet featuring an image of a
The packaging encourages users to snort or smoke the white
powder - the same methods used to consume P or cocaine - but
does not list its ingredients or the contact details of its
manufacturer or distributor.
APNZ visited all the legal high stockists on Auckland's
Two sold Crack - Walia Superette, where it was openly
displayed behind the counter, and tobacco shop Shosha, where
it was concealed in a cupboard next to the cigarettes. It
retailed at both for $75 for 200mgs.
The seller at Walia Superette said Crack did not come with a
pipe, but he offered to sell a glass pipe for $20. He did not
ask for any identification.
When asked, he said the substance was "completely safe".
NZ Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell condemned the
product as idiotic and irresponsible.
"The industry likes to claim that they are providing safe
alternatives to illegal drugs, but their behaviour is no
different from what we see in the criminal black market,
where customers don't know what they're buying, they don't
know what the product has been cut with."
It is understood at least one Auckland dairy was bullied into
stocking Crack, but later pulled the product from its
Mr Bell said legal high industry sources had confirmed the
bullying tactics, but none would reveal who was responsible
for making and distributing Crack.
"The people behind Crack have a reputation in the industry as
being pretty aggressive, and again it's not the behaviour you
would expect of a industry that's trying to promote
themselves as being responsible."
Mr Bell said even illicit drug users were outraged by the
product - including a former methamphetamine user who told
him he was "gobsmacked" at its brazenness.
"That reaction highlights for me that the industry has
crossed the line by branding a product Crack and having drug
paraphernalia on it. It's just one big piss-take because they
know they can get away with this."
Mr Bell said the product highlighted the need for regulation
of the industry.
People posting on tripme.co.nz - a local internet forum about
drugs - were among those who condemned the product, with one
saying it was "outrageous" and another slamming the marketing
Matt Bowden, a pioneer of the legal high industry in New
Zealand, said encouraging people to smoke the product was
"I believe they should have gone the whole way and spelled
the product name with a P," he said.
"When white powders have been sold to the public in the past
it has encouraged more dangerous routes of administration."
Both the Ministry of Health and Associate Health Minister
Peter Dunne, who is drafting legislation to clamp down on
legal highs, were unaware of the product before APNZ made
Mr Dunne said its marketing came as no surprise.
"It pretty well sums up this shabby industry and
irresponsible kind of people it contains. It is somewhat
ironic that they will go to the trouble of using these images
but will not list the ingredients of their products."
Mr Dunne said next year's law change to regulate the legal
high industry could not come soon enough.
"They will have to prove their products are safe before they
sell them, and no doubt this will put the vast majority of
these low-life types out of business."
Crack's packaging does not list its ingredients, but gives
the chemical registry number for phenethylamine - a compound
which is structurally related to psychoactive drugs.
Without chemical testing, it is impossible to tell what it
National Poisons Centre toxicologist Dr Leo Schep said
phenethylamine was a naturally occurring compound which acted
as a neurotransmitter in the brain, was present in chocolate,
and purported to have benefits associated with mood and
"However, when ingested it is rapidly metabolised and
rendered inactive, preventing significant concentrations in
Dr Schep said one un-cited report suggested three males
ingested an unknown amount of phenethylamine, resulting in
increased heart rate, anxiety, nausea and vomiting.
A Ministry of Health spokesman said phenethylamine was not
controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
"However the ministry has no details on this product and we
do not know what it contains. As regards packaging, the use
of the image, along with a non-listing of ingredients, could
be viewed as irresponsible."
Meanwhile, the New Zealander behind synthetic cannabis
product Kronic, Matthew Wielenga, was arrested in Melbourne
on Friday with more than 100kg of Kronic and 1kg of white
powder, said to be a synthetic cocaine sold as Diablo.
He appeared in a Melbourne court on Monday, charged with
trafficking a commercial quantity of synthetic cannabinoids
and two counts of possessing a drug of dependence, and was
bailed until March.
- Additional reporting: Matthew Theunissen of APNZ