Customs has seized and destroyed almost 800kg of synthetic cannabis products destined for the New Zealand market, it has been revealed.
Figures released under the Official Information Act show the New Zealand Customs Service has seized 784kg of banned substances since the introduction of temporary class drug notices (TCDNs). That includes eight Auckland interceptions in August and September last year, totalling 670kg.
A Customs spokeswoman said the service worked closely with the Ministry of Health to counter smuggling, manufacturing and distribution of controlled drugs and substances covered by TCDNs.
''Unlawful importation of these substances will in some cases carry significant penalties and, therefore, Customs will seize and investigate as appropriate.''
The Misuse of Drugs Act was amended in August 2011 to provide for temporary bans of up to 12 months on new psychoactive substances. The notices were issued for substances rather than commercial synthetic cannabis products, such as K2 or Kronic, but meant products containing those substances were effectively banned at the border, the spokeswoman said.
''Customs have, on occasion, notified the Ministry of Health of new psychoactive substances we have encountered at the border,'' she said.
Those substances were then considered for inclusion under the TCDN regime, which was a holding measure until permanent legislation was introduced next year. Last month, Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne told the Otago Daily Times that about 50 substances found in 30 products had been banned. In 2011, Customs recorded 14 interceptions of banned substances totalling 736kg, while in 2012 there have been 80 interceptions totalling 48kg.
Anyone found importing, making or supplying those banned substances could face up to eight years in prison.