Some of the first legal highs to be sold under licence in New
Zealand have been urgently pulled off shelves after users
reported adverse health effects.
The five brands were previously assessed by the Ministry of
Health and in August were judged low risk enough to be sold
to the public.
But a spike of calls to the National Poisons Centre will lead
to a recall today of the AK47, Anarchy, Karma, Northern
Lights Primo and Voodoo brands.
There are now 42 legal high products being sold in New
Zealand under interim licences.
Suppliers paid $10,000 to register each product, with
authorities evaluating calls to the National Poisons Centre
and other reports of harm before granting approval.
Associate Health Minister Todd McClay told the Herald that
the newly banned products appeared to contain the same active
The recall did not show flaws in the current system, he said.
"Before the Psychoactive Substances Act came into effect
these products not only could be sold, there was no
legislative or regulatory ability for the ministry to
withdraw them. Now, where additional concern or risk is
shown, any decision around licensing can be reviewed and
products withdrawn from the market, as happened in this
Mr McClay said consultation on more permanent regulations
around legal highs would begin next month.
The world-leading regime will require manufacturers to prove
their products are low risk before they can go on sale.
In the meantime, products being sold under the interim
licensing system would be closely monitored.
"No other licences can be issued now. There can be no other
products or retail outlets allowed until the regulations are
in place," Mr McClay said. "The reason I think the
legislation is working is we had an estimated 4000 retail
outlets, we're down to about 150 now. We had more than 200
products, we're down to only 42 now."
Yesterday Tim Kelly, owner of the Gizmo businesses in Nelson
and Richmond and holder of the licence for AK47, said he was
unaware of the pending action against his product.
Customers had not made any complaints after smoking AK47, he
"That's not to say that people haven't [had adverse effects],
but they haven't come back and made it clear. It's not really
any different to any other products on the market, they're
all basically much of a muchness - they're pretty much all
Approved - then banned
Temporary licences allowing the sale of the following legal
high products have been cancelled after users reported
adverse health affects:
* Northern Lights Primo
- Nicholas Jones