The New Zealand Drug Foundation wants the new synthetic drugs legislation to include strict rules on packaging make the legal highs products “as unsexy as possible”.
They believe that plain packaging should be extended to party pills and synthetic cannabis products to …
… help reduce the appeal of these drugs to young people, the lobby group says.
The new Psychoactive Substances Bill was put to the table in Parliament early last month. It would require synthetic recreational drug manufacturers to prove that their products are safe for human consumption, at their own cost before the drugs could be put to market and sold in specialized retail stores.
The new bill will set a range of restrictions on sale, such as a minimum purchase age of 18 for approved psychoactive drugs and a ban on advertising.
However New Zealand Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell wants it to go even further. He said that plain packaging should be introduced as part of the legislation to prevent legal battles with the legal highs industry in future.
“Because this is a world-first, our view is that we should try to get as much right at the start as possible.
“With tobacco and alcohol, there’s a big review every couple of decades with the law, and there’s always wailing and gnashing of teeth in those areas.
“Let’s try to get [plain packaging] built into the law now, from day one, rather than pick a fight with the party pill industry in five years’ time.”
Mr Bell said the same rationale for plain cigarette packets could be applied to synthetic cannabis and party pills.
“We don’t want to suddenly create this new market which is really attractive. We’re trying to make these products as unsexy as possible.”
One industry insider disagrees with Mr Bell and suggests that the restrictions on advertising within the new bill is more than enough and asking for plain packaging is unnecessary.
“Perhaps the New Zealand Drug Foundation needs to look at the most destructive drug of them all, Alcohol. With no recorded deaths directly attributed to Legal Highs in NZ in the past 10 years and over 1000 alcohol related deaths per year, why are they focusing on the marketing of legal highs when alcohol so clearly causes such destruction and it’s so widely advertised and marketed to our young generation already.” he says.
Temporary bans on potentially harmful synthetic products are set to lapse in August when the new law comes in to place.
Listen to Ross Bell on TVNZ Breakfast March 13 2013