The Innovative Regulation of Legal Highs in New Zealand

The HCLU interviewed Peter Dunne, the Minister of Revenue of New Zealand. He explained the innovative legislational approach his country has adopted to new psychoactive drugs

New psychoactive substances were high on the agenda of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) this year. The emerging market of legal substitutes for currently illegal drugs poses a challenge for both policy-makers and service-providers. There is a lack of research evidence on the risks of their use in the longer run, and politicians are often puzzled as to how to regulate them. Most governments attempt to ban as many new substances as possible in as short time as possible. But the old-fashioned prohibitionist solutions do not seem to be very effective. These substances have taken over the market because of prohibitionist policies in the first place: they are the consequences of the ongoing battle between law makers and producers. If a government bans a new substance, a substitute will be designed and put on the market in a very short time. Even generic laws (banning groups of substances) or analogue laws (banning drugs according to similar molecular structure) have not proven to be effective. New Zealand will now reverse the onus of proof to producers – so they have to prove that their product is low risk before putting it onto the market. 

Posted by Peter Sarosi

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