The Drug Lord With a Social Mission
March 3, 2015 3:45 AM   Subscribe

In 2013, New Zealand passed a law creating the world’s first set of regulations to allow the clinical testing and approval of new recreational drugs. Much as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does for medicines, New Zealand’s system stands to create a government-regulated market for legal highs—an attempt to tame the industry not by stamping it out, but by guiding consumers to safe, reliable products, and giving suppliers an incentive to bring such products to market.

[from mefi's own maias]
posted by ellieBOA (16 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
Intelligence squared. Good on ya New Zealand.
posted by rmmcclay at 4:21 AM on March 3, 2015


I suppose there could be a law in any jurisdiction which required the accurate labeling of any product, legal or otherwise. Violation of the law would then be either a criminal or civil case against the seller. The drug market might then be able to function in a safer manner with less fraud and shady actors when lawsuits are brought by buyers based on mislabeling.
posted by Brian B. at 7:30 AM on March 3, 2015


This whole article is really fantastic. Mefi's Own maias does a great job with a very interesting subject.
posted by gingerbeer at 7:45 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Interestingly, New Zealand has one of the tightest controls on tobacco of any country that I'm aware of, perhaps of any country in the world in general. (They've had a 16+ sale restriction for more than a century, they have a national indoor smoking ban, a complete advertising ban, and you have to buy them sort of "over the counter" in stores where they're not even allowed to be displayed.) They really are ahead of the curve.

Also you can distill your own liquor, if you want.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:46 AM on March 3, 2015


Thanks gingerbeer, didn't realise it was by a mefite! Awesome article maias.
posted by ellieBOA at 8:05 AM on March 3, 2015


[Added attribution to post.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:11 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Interestingly, New Zealand has one of the tightest controls on tobacco of any country that I'm aware of, perhaps of any country in the world in general. (They've had a 16+ sale restriction for more than a century, they have a national indoor smoking ban, a complete advertising ban, and you have to buy them sort of "over the counter" in stores where they're not even allowed to be displayed.) They really are ahead of the curve.

Except for maybe the century thing, I believe Australia has all that, plus plain packaging. NZ was looking at bringing it in in the other year, but decided to await the results of the Phillip Morris/Australia investor-state arbitration.
Philip Morris Asia is challenging the tobacco plain packaging legislation under the 1993 Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of Hong Kong for the Promotion and Protection of Investments (Hong Kong Agreement). This is the first investor-state dispute that has been brought against Australia.

Philip Morris Asia is arguing that Australia's tobacco plain packaging measure constitutes an expropriation of its Australian investments in breach of Article 6 of the Hong Kong Agreement. Philip Morris Asia further argues that Australia's tobacco plain packaging measure is in breach of its commitment under Article 2(2) of the Hong Kong Agreement to accord fair and equitable treatment to Philip Morris Asia's investments. Philip Morris Asia further asserts that tobacco plain packaging constitutes an unreasonable and discriminatory measure and that Philip Morris Asia's investments have been deprived of full protection and security in breach of Article 2(2) of the Hong Kong Agreement. Australia rejects these claims.
posted by zamboni at 8:26 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


The FPP pullquote slightly misrepresents the current situation (which is covered in the article itself); in 2014 the government buckled to a media shitstorm around the original legislation and put in place a set of hurdles that essentially means that no recreational drugs are ever going to legally make it to market. The piece ends with some speculation about some one-in-a-million ways that might, maybe, in some unspecified future make this law a route by which legal recreational drugs make it to market in NZ, but it's very hypothetical.

In other words, NZ passed a law which MPs themselves didn't really understand then freaked out when the rest of the world started applauding them for their bold new approach to recreational drugs and reversed course.
posted by yoink at 9:08 AM on March 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


> Thanks gingerbeer, didn't realise it was by a mefite! Awesome article maias.

maias is easily the best reporter writing today on drug policy issues. She's always worth reading.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:15 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I suppose there could be a law in any jurisdiction which required the accurate labeling of any product, legal or otherwise. Violation of the law would then be either a criminal or civil case against the seller. The drug market might then be able to function in a safer manner with less fraud and shady actors when lawsuits are brought by buyers based on mislabeling.

If you're a drug dealer, I can't see extra civil and criminal penalties being much of an incentive to push a safer product: you're already risking a long prison term and having all of your assets confiscated (for being connected to drug sales), then. For an idea like that to have an effect, I think the drugs would have to be decriminalized to the extent that the mislabeling penalty is the stronger one.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 9:16 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Fantastic article; one of the few articles I've read where I have some knowledge of the subject and haven't noticed anything I'd disagree with.

yoink: the piece ends with some speculation about some one-in-a-million ways that might, maybe, in some unspecified future make this law a route by which legal recreational drugs make it to market in NZ, but it's very hypothetical.

The synthetic cannabis industry certainly believes it will be able to bring legal products to market in the near future [source: a family member who is a retailer licensed to sell these products]. It will be interesting to see how things turn out.
posted by Pink Frost at 11:32 AM on March 3, 2015


Interestingly, New Zealand has one of the tightest controls on tobacco of any country that I'm aware of, perhaps of any country in the world in general. (They've had a 16+ sale restriction for more than a century, they have a national indoor smoking ban, a complete advertising ban, and you have to buy them sort of "over the counter" in stores where they're not even allowed to be displayed.) They really are ahead of the curve.

40% of the Maori (indigenous, usually poorer part of the population) are smokers. 20-25%(depending on where you read the stats) of the rest of the population are smokers.

The laws look all great, and then you realize that they aren't really doing any good.


In other words, NZ passed a law which MPs themselves didn't really understand then freaked out when the rest of the world started applauding them for their bold new approach to recreational drugs and reversed course.

I used to be an end user of marijuana in NZ back in 2010-2011. Prices were about $300NZD/ounce, equating to about $225-240USD. NZers considered this to be outrageous, but not outrageous enough to stop from having one of the highest rates of marijuana consumption in the world.

Yes, Jamaica, we got you beat too.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:44 AM on March 3, 2015


Genius.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:28 PM on March 3, 2015


40% of the Maori (indigenous, usually poorer part of the population) are smokers. 20-25%(depending on where you read the stats) of the rest of the population are smokers.

The laws look all great, and then you realize that they aren't really doing any good.


Well yes, but smoking rates are dropping overall, though not significantly in all ethnic groups, so maybe the law has something to do with that.
posted by Pink Frost at 3:07 PM on March 3, 2015


40% of the Maori (indigenous, usually poorer part of the population) are smokers. 20-25%(depending on where you read the stats) of the rest of the population are smokers.

Disappointing to hear, because Australia's smoking rates (which are very well documented and require no hearsay) are now at 17.5% total. First country to drop back below 20% I believe. Unfortunately aboriginal and Torres Strait islander smoking rates are at 47%.
posted by wilful at 4:45 AM on March 4, 2015


Thanks everyone!!! I found New Zealand fascinating, especially since I arrived there about a week after the politicians freaked out and (sorta) reversed the law by banning the use of animal testing in new approvals and removing the previously sold products.

However, since then, they have continued to require local regions to make plans and regulations for future sales and if Matt Bowden can fund a trial (he's obviously lost serious income now), there seems to be a big enough loophole for him to use animal tests from other countries and do human trials in NZ.

The whole controversy also advanced their marijuana legalization debate, with politicians realizing that the most sensible drug to trial and approve would be cannabis and now that the US is supporting a loose interpretation of UN conventions that can allow such experimentation, we might actually see that eventually.

It was also really fun hanging out with Matt and Kristi, as you might imagine..
posted by Maias at 5:43 AM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


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