Party drug stripped from shelves

TALIA SHADWELL
Last updated 14:25 07/12/2012

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Palmerston North legal high purveyors are largely complying with a new ban on the party drug "K2", but one retailer is still selling a product resembling the formerly legal high.

Recreational drug K2, which hit the shelves in mimicry of the banned party drug Kronic, has also been stripped from shelves.

The ban, effective from yesterday, targets K2's active ingredient EAM-2201, which is a toxic synthetic cannabis substance providing the high that is popular among teenagers.

The substance is now considered to be equivalent to a class C drug.

Of three Palmerston North shops visited by the Manawatu Standard yesterday, one was still selling five different synthetic cannabis products displaying the K2 brand.

A shop assistant sold the Standard a packet of K2 Black for $20. The packaging displayed no list of ingredients and when asked, the shop assistant was unable to say what was in it.

The K2 brand was implicated in a drug-driving conviction in Southland last week after a courier driver under its influence hallucinated and lost consciousness while driving.

Detective Sergeant Dave Thompson, of Palmerston North, said confirming the purchased product contained EAM-2201 would require costly lab testing.

"The issue with these legal highs is that when one of their ingredients becomes illegal they think up new [ingredients] and sell them as the same brand . . . if the product becomes banned it's often the scenario that it will stop being sold but the manufacturers don't sit idle," he said.

Concerns remained high among parents and schools in Palmerston North, Mr Thompson said.

"What we're hearing both through the youth aid section and through heavier users [of cannabis] is that they're quite shocked at how it's affecting them."

The ban will be enforced for 12 months while Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne's office and an independent expert committee work on completing a law to crack down on legal herbal high products, shifting the onus to manufacturers and producers to prove their products are safe.

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- Manawatu Standard

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