A leading toxicologist says it could take "up to a year" before the public knows whether the new regulations for synthetic highs actually reduced harm.
National Poisons Centre toxicologist Dr Leo Schep said he would reserve judgement on the recently ratified Psychoactive Substances Act.
He spoke at a public meeting in Timaru after widespread concern about synthetic highs, particularly their sale in dairies.
"The new laws get the products out of dairies and restricts the sale age to 18 and over, so that's a start," he said. "But there's nothing to stop people obtaining them through other avenues, the new law merely reduces the easiest point of access."
His comments come after authorities report a rush of applications for retail and distribution licences for the sale of synthetic highs.
In Timaru, Stafford St shops Dizzy Spells and Karmec Creations have said they would apply for the interim licence, as they have previously sold the products.
It costs $500 for an application for a licence to research, manufacture or sell the products.
The Psychoactive Substances Regulatory Authority will have the power to recall any product it considers poses "more than a low risk of harm to individuals".
"I hope authorities will have the sufficient resources to test the new strains. The law's only been in effect a matter of days - it could be a year before we know if it's really working," Dr Schep said. "There appears to be a couple of existing products, under the brand name of Kryptonite, which have caused quite a bit of concern this month."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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