By 3news.co.nz staff
Drug advocate Matt Bowden has this afternoon announced he is quitting the legal high industry, saying he’d rather it was regulated – not banned.
Mr Bowden has become the face of synthetic cannabis products through his business dealings, and discussed the industry on 60 Minutes.
Law changes have been made recently to ban the legal marijuana substitutes from being sold, and come into effect next Wednesday. Prime Minister John Key announced last week 43 substances will be banned, of which party pills and herbal highs are not included.
The Government will apply the ban using a ‘temporary class drug notice’ which is a new mechanism that places a temporary ban on "unregulated substances of concern".
Mr Bowden says the law changes will affect the industry greatly, and he does not believe he can work in the industry any more.
“The industry is probably going to keep designing new products and putting them on the market and it’s going to be increasingly a grey area of cat and mouse,” he said. “I just don’t want to be a part of that.”
Mr Bowden adds that it is disappointing the Government had passed up the chance to regulate synthetic cannabinoids when it had the chance.
“The Government received a recommendation from the EACD last year to make synthetic cannabinoids a restricted substance, which would have placed a range of restrictions on how those products were sold, such as limiting their sale to over-18s and controlling where they can be sold and how they are advertised. The Government should have acted faster to control the sale of synthetic cannabinoids.”
Mr Bowden said that while the synthetic cannabinoids his company had imported were safe and had never caused a single reported fatality, consumers would be much safer if they had been properly regulated as restricted substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
“The Government has said it will now play regulatory cat and mouse with these products. That means fly-by-night products with short production runs, low safety standards and still no regulations. I don’t want any part of that. I was heading in the opposite direction towards product screening, routine safety tests and restricted outlets,” said Mr Bowden
Mr Bowden says he is going to “step out” of the industry and focus on his rock music. But, he says he would be back if “sensible regulations” were in place.
“I may continue with non-alcoholic alternatives when the Government gets the regulation for new drugs right. Until then, I am going to work on lobbying worldwide for safer drug policies, finishing my epic rock album, working with new artists, getting my live show out. The papers have said that I do put on the best parties in the country at my rock concerts, so I will continue doing just that: cross-pollinating theatre, rock, circus, opera and dance parties into a really good night out.”
Responding to questions about why the ingredients of legal highs were secret the worker said secrecy around the drugs’ chemical ingredients was to steer off “cowboys” from making cheap knockoffs, not cover up illegal practices.
“There are so many cowboys out there that want to make a quick buck by doing the same thing,” he says. “It’s not secretive for the fact that they’re doing something wrong, its secretive for the fact that you want to try to keep other people away from just making a cheaper copy.”
source: newshub archive