The Government is warning of "heavy penalties" for selling,
making or possessing synthetic drugs after the deadline of
midnight tomorrow, when all remaining products will be
stripped from shelves.
Parliament has begun debating an emergency law change under
urgency, which will ban all remaining party pills and
synthetic cannabis until a rigorous testing regime is in
It was expected to pass tomorrow, and would come into effect
on Thursday at 12.01am.
Health Minister Tony Ryall said at this point, all interim
approvals for psychoactive drugs will be revoked, remaining
products will be recalled, and retail licences would be
"It will also become illegal to possess these products, so
anyone thinking of stocking up ... should bear that in mind."
The penalty for possessing a small amount of a psychoactive
substance was a $500 fine. Possessing a large amount with
intention to supply was punishable by up to two years' jail
or a fine of $500,000.
Retailers and manufacturers would not be compensated for
The emergency law change would stop tests on animals being
used to seek approval for psychoactive products.
Mr Ryall clarified that the psychoactives testing regime
would accept overseas animal drug trials which proved that a
product was unsafe.
"No one will be doing animal testing to support an
application here because it will not be able to be used for
Labour associate health spokesman Iain Lees-Galloway said
Labour planned to support the bill.
But he blamed National for "making a hash" of implementing
the new rules for psychoactives. National had last year
opposed a Green Party proposal to ban animal testing, but
later admitted that concerns about animal harm was holding up
the much-needed testing regime. Its ban on animal testing was
belated, Mr Lees-Galloway said.
The Green Party planned to abstain on the bill because it
supported a ban on animal drug trials but believed the
blanket ban on synthetics would create an untested black
Act Party leader John Banks, the only MP to oppose the
original bill, accused his colleagues of acting like "fruit
"The process we're going through this afternoon is a
time-honoured process of dead rat-swallowing. We got it
Mr Ryall said the 41 products which had temporary waivers
were not linked to adverse reactions when they were approved
But since the bill passed in August, health authorities had
reported an increase in serious reactions including vomiting,
seizures and psychotic episodes.
Government already had power to remove specific products from
the market. But because it was difficult to link cases to
individual products, all of them were being removed until a
robust testing regime was in place.
*The Green Party tabled an amendment to rule out animal
testing in the Psychoactive Substances Act, not the Labour
Party as reported in an article yesterday.