Editorial: Is this what we expected?

PETER O'NEILL
Last updated 12:10 13/07/2013

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OPINION: Call me a dreamer but I thought the Psychoactive Substances Bill would mean all synthetic drugs would disappear from sale until they could be proven safe.

And that the safety test would be rigorous and, for the manufacturers, expensive. I must have been smoking something. Or not paying attention.

But first, the easy-to-understand bit. Dairies are no longer able to sell synthetic drugs. Full stop. Excellent.

But ... if you run a specialist outlet, and you've had stock on your shelves for a month, and you get a licence from the Ministry of Health, you'll be allowed to continue selling these products into the foreseeable future. "These products" being party pills, energy pills and herbal highs.

Oh, and your clients will have to be 18 years old. Before, that wasn't law. And some labelling will have to change.

Customers will also be able to continue buying off the internet.

What does this mean in South Canterbury? Not much actually.

Public campaigning meant synthetic drugs were no longer available in dairies anyway, and the two Stafford St outlets which sell them now already impose an 18-year age restriction. Both intend applying for the appropriate licence.

This isn't absolutely clear, but the best we could fathom yesterday was that whatever hasn't been banned so far will still be available because they are considered low risk.

That's hard to believe. What's the definition of low risk?

Surely this can't be what MP Peter Dunne envisaged. It certainly would not be what most members of the public envisaged.

So what's happened?

What's happened is bureaucracy got involved, as it had to, and what on the surface might have looked like a fairly simple thing (let's get rid of synthetic drugs) suddenly became complicated.

Like, if we ban these chemicals, we might have to ban coffee, tea, or wine.

Oh, please.

Do we have to try to cover every eventuality? Why not draft something simple and let common sense dictate? If someone wants to test it let them challenge it through the courts.

It's great that synthetic drugs are out of dairies, but there's a feeling of being short-changed here.

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- The Timaru Herald

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