Synthetic Drugs

New Zealand Looks to Legalizing, Regulating Synthetic Drugs

Hard drugs hard to come by out in the South Pacific


Stuck in Customs/

Worldwide drug prohibition has helped fuel a golden age of sorts for synthetic drugs, which are created faster than government can pass laws to ban them. New Zealand is cluing in to the futility, via the Economist:

An unlikely leader in legal highs is New Zealand. Conventional hard drugs are scarce in the country, because traffickers have little interest in serving 4m people far out in the South Pacific. Kiwis therefore make their own synthetic drugs, which they take in greater quantity than virtually anyone else. The government shuts down more crystal-meth labs there than anywhere bar America and Ukraine. But the business has adapted. First it turned to benzylpiperazine, which a third of young New Zealanders have tried. When that was banned in 2008, dealers found plenty of other chemicals to peddle. Today the most popular highs are synthetic cannabinoids, which pack a harder punch than ordinary cannabis.

Sick of trying to keep up with drugmakers, the government is trying a new tack. Last month a law was passed which offers drug designers the chance of getting official approval for their products. If they can persuade a new "Psychoactive Substances Regulatory Authority" that their pills and powders are low risk, they will be licensed to market them, whether or not they get people high. Drugs will have to undergo clinical trials, which the government expects to take around 18 months—much less than for medicines, because the drugs will be tested only for toxicity, not for efficacy. Drugs that are already banned internationally, such as cocaine and cannabis, are ineligible. Only licensed shops will sell the drugs, without advertising and not to children.

The Economist worries about New Zealand's ability to find a tax rate that will sufficiently discourage consumption without fueling the black market (good luck with that!) and whether the country will define "low risk" too high, thus effectively continuing prohibition, or too low, making it dangerous (because drugs!) But if New Zealand takes an open, consumer and producer-friendly approach to regulating synthetic drugs, it could spark a boom in the synthetic drug industry in New Zealand and make it easier to get high out in the South Pacific.


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  1. Matt Damon!

    Also, MATT DAMON!!

  2. The Economist worries about New Zealand’s ability to find a tax rate that will sufficiently discourage consumption

    Because that’s the goal, apparently?

    1. If they can’t control behavior, what’s the point, Hugh? Why do anything? Why even get up in the morning?

    2. For this statement The Economist can go pleasure itself with a large, pointy, and rusted object.

      1. What do you expect from a magazine that publishes Will Wilkinson?

  3. Did someone just say legal LSD?

    1. I think that’s one of those drugs that is banned internationally. Maybe ALD.

  4. So I’m at Golden Chick for lunch, and they’re running a promotion right now. Can you guess what it is? Might you win money, or perhaps some chicken-related item?

    No. It’s a fucking lawnmower. And not a nice one you ride around on. A regular, non-fancy pushmower. And you have to enter the contest to win it. And they even have a cardboard cutout of the pushmower set up in the lobby.

    WHAT THE FUCK?! I felt like I was taking crazy pills. Why the FUCK would a fried chicken chain run a sweepstakes to give away a pushmower, and advertise it? What the fucking fuck does that have to do with ANY FUCKING THING? Are fried chicken eaters demographically biased towards needing lawn mowers?!

    1. That’s what you get for eating fast food, JJ.

    2. Is it Mulching? If it’s mulching go ahead and win it for me, bring it over and I’ll buy you a six pack of your choosing*. Thanks in advance.

      * no imports, light beer, or Bud/Miller products

    3. And you have to enter the contest to win it

      Shortly after that is when you start getting phone calls telling you that you won something, so come and pick it up, we need to talk to you about these timeshares we have for sale.

    4. Fried chicken = fat people = need exercise = push a lawnmower.

      Obviously Bloomberg-approved.

  5. So where’s my synthehol?

  6. But if New Zealand takes an open, consumer and producer-friendly approach to regulating synthetic drugs, it could

    trigger the end of the world! Have you any idea how toxic all that hypocrisy would be if it was all released at once?

  7. When I lived in NZ 2002/2003, ecstasy was $65-$80 a pop (if you could find it) and cocaine was well over $200 a gram. Thus, every head shop and alterna-store in the country did a booming trade in synthetic and herbal copies of ecstasy, amongst other things. Also, the government attempted to ‘solve’ the ‘problem’ of domestic crystal meth production by instituting a 1 package limit on anyone purchasing cough meds at a pharmacy.

    Good to see the state taking a small step in the right direction.

    1. How is New Zealand? I’ve been considering it as a fall-back country if the U.S. ever falls to pieces.

      1. It looks like they only allow one internet post per hour down there.


      2. obviously terrible. I mean x is 4x the cost of the US and coke is over double.

    2. Small step? This is huge. An acknowledgment by gov’t that new forms of “high” or just production of different feelings are worthy goals of technology.

      Look for Big Pharma to get into this quick. I’m sure they’ve been waiting for just such an opening.

  8. If they can persuade a new “Psychoactive Substances Regulatory Authority” that their pills and powders are low risk

    Hahahahhhahaaaahhahhhhaaaa! Bwaahhhahhaaahhhhaaaaaa!

    That’s the funniest shit I have heard in a long time. Great excuse to create a new bureaucracy, that effectively will do nothing except to persecute and probably jail everyone who is stupid enough to try getting one of these permits. Probably about the same as the marijuana tax stamps that the US created.

    This is one of the countries, if I am not mistaken that jumped on the nanny wagon to ban Kratom, just because a totalitarian country like Thailand banned it, a country which also banned insulting the king. Kratom is about as harmless as it gets, unless you count nausea from eating a ridiculous amount of it, as dangerous.

    This is a real joke.

    1. Never heard of Kratom, even when I was in Thailand. Thanks for the suggestion.

      You are correct about the bureaucracy that would no doubt spring up.

      1. Kratom is good because you can use it in the morning to wake up and also to relax before bed.

        1. This is exactly why I love it, GBN.

          Well, I don’t ever use it at night.

          But when I can find some that is good (it’s legal here in MD), I will sit a gram or two on my nightstand with a bottle of water. I will sit my alarm for 7 or 8, how ever early I want to get up, and when it goes off, I will take the powdered Kratom leaf with a couple drinks of water, I always do it that way. Then I hit snooze.

          About 15 minutes later I will pop out of bed wide awake and hit the shower.

          It’s the best smoothest wake me up I have ever tried. Coffee sucks ballz as well as most other wake me ups I have tried.

    2. What makes you think they’re any less sincere than the authorities licensing therapeutics or pesticides?

  9. I caught a few minutes of the Katie Couric show today (who know she had a show?). Her guests? young drug addicts who “you’d never expect would have this type of problem” – meaning, good looking white kids.

    The Interview:

    Katie: So what kind of trouble did you get into while doing heroin?

    Very Attractive Young Women: I was arrested and jailed.

    Katie: What did you do?

    Very Attractive Young Women: Things I’m ashamed of and caused my family a lot of distress.

    Katie (leaning forward): What things?

    Very Attractive Young Women (blushing uncomfortably): Things that are socially unacceptable.

    Katie: Be more specific.

    This is called SHAME PORN.

    I really hate Katie Couric.

    1. Katie: Be more specific.

      “Ummm, nothing that you haven’t done, but my price was way lower.”

      Not that I think this is true, but I bet Katie is cute when she blushes.

    2. Where can I get a copy?

    3. Wait! I thought the drug problem was in the ghettos. Isn’t that where all the SWAT-battles are fought? Who knew real people were getting high. Well, except for celebrities, and they go to rehab, not jail.


  10. Soudns like a pretty solid plan to me dude, I like it.

    1. See, even the bots agree. Or one of them, at least.

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