Canvassing for Opinion - aka "Blairs Brain on Cannabis"

IMHO prohibition sentiment requires inherent addiction to status quo, an incapacity to visualise beyond the here and now and a desperate desire to know others might feel the same... Reform is not revolutionary, rather it is evolutionary. Having survived banging your head against a brick wall the evolutionist relishes having stopped. / Blair

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Herbal highs and the law - Social Tonics Association

23.09.2004 - Emily Beadon

Over-the-counter herbal highs and party pills currently under the scrutiny of the Government are not as dangerous or addictive as illicit substances, a Victoria University psychology lecturer says.

The legal highs, presently being sold as dietary supplements, will be subject to stricter regulations if the third amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act is passed.

Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton says he is drafting a supplementary order paper to the amendment that will give State agencies increased capacity to monitor the distribution of herbal highs and other unclassified substances.

�The purpose of the new schedule will be to enable regulations to be made to protect young New Zealanders in particular against the sale of legal substances, which are subject to abuse but do not warrant, on current evidence, regulation under the current risk classes A, B or C drug classifications.�

Victoria University psychology lecturer Dr Johan Lauwereyns says the party pills are approximately 200 times less likely to activate dopamine, the brain�s happy chemical, in the consumer�s head than illicit drugs.

He says at this lower level the chemical makes the person feel good but does not create cravings.

�They do (herbal highs) activate dopamine in the brain indirectly but they do not have the addictive quality illicit substances such as cocaine have.

�As far as over-the-counter substances go, alcohol is definitely a much more dangerous drug.�

The predominant drug used in the �legal highs�, such as Rapture, Zoom and Charge, is
benzylpiperazine (BZP).

In April this year the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs (EACD) reported to the Minister of Health there was insufficient information to recommend BZP and related substances be classified in the Misuse of Drugs Act (1975).

BZP is illegal in the United States of America and in some states of Australia, however, the EACD report states there are very few health risks or psychological risks associated with consumption of the drug.

The drugs produce a euphoric, highly vigilant state and are marketed as an alternative to the illegal party drugs ecstasy and speed.

Wellington retailer Cosmic Corner sells the �herbal highs� 24 hours a day during the weekend, through a vending window manned by a staff member after hours.

Cosmic Corner Wellington manager Iain Hickling says he is concerned the drugs are now being stocked in dairies and bars because the consumers are much less likely to get any quality advice on how they can use them in a safe manner.

He says as a member of the Social Tonics Association of New Zealand (STANZ), an organisation that represents the industry in monitoring sales of the energy enhancers, Cosmic Corner supports the new regulations.

�We are definitely supportive of some sort of regulation on where and who they can be sold to�we have always felt that as an industry we have a moral responsibility to regulate packaging and marketing.�

Mr Anderton�s proposed new schedule will enable restrictions to be placed on the sale of party pills such as age limits for purchase and further regulations for the supply, marketing and labelling of the products.

The new schedule, expected to be decided on this year, will not be confined to BZP but will include regulative guidelines for other legal substances that are abused such as solvents.
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