Synthetic cannabis off the shelves

Central Otago's sole synthetic cannabis retailer has been forced to remove the products from its shelves but it's likely that could be short-lived and they will be back on the market soon.

C 'n C Traders owner Bill Clements of Alexandra was required to remove all synthetic cannabis stock from his store after the Psychoactive Substances Act came into force on July 18.

The law forbids sale of a product unless an official regulator appointed by the Minister of Health has approved it and under the new legislation, manufacturers must prove their product has a low level of harm before it can be sold.

While some retailers, such as Mr Clements, will be able to apply for a license to sell the approved products, dairies, convenience stores and service stations cannot.

Central Otago sub-area commander senior sergeant Ian Kerrisk said Mr Clements has

indicated he has applied for the license.

A police check on the store on Monday found Mr Clements had not been selling the products since the law was brought in last Wednesday.

However, it was found his view of the act and the views of police "differ" and the Ministry of Health have been contacted to review the concerns.

"We will continue to be monitoring," Mr Kerrisk said.

When contacted by the Mirror yesterday Mr Clements refused to comment.

Mr Kerrisk said the change in the law "is a positive step in reducing the risk around harmful substances being sold to the public." Under the Act all products, including party pills, energy pills and herbal highs, must be labelled with health warnings, a list of the active ingredients, contact details for the manufacturer or distributor and the telephone number of the National Poisons Centre. Advertising and labelling was not allowed to appeal to minors.

Products can be withdrawn from the market if adverse effects, including reports of addiction, were confirmed and new offences have been created for breaches of requirements under the act.

The Psychoactive Substances Regulatory Authority were taking applications for interim licenses to sell psychoactive products which have been granted interim approval.

Deputy police commissioner Mike Bush said "police believe that by severely restricting the sale of these products fewer people will experience the harmful effects of smoking or ingesting unknown synthetic chemicals".

"There has been significant and justified community concern over the impact these products have had throughout the country and this legislation is a key means to respond to this harm," Mr Bush said.

With the power to take enforcement action, police will be able to respond to community concerns far more effectively, he said.

The Mirror