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New Zealand to ban legal substances unless proven clinically safe

New Zealand Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne [official website] on Monday announced [press release] a plan to ban the use of drugs providing legal highs unless manufactures of such drugs can prove that they are clinically safe. The scientific evidence required for approval is expected to be similar to requirements needed for new medicines, including toxicology data and results of human clinical trials. According to Dunne even if the drugs pass the initial requirements, the products will be facing retail restrictions further limiting potential harm. The new legislation is expected to be introduced in Parliament [official website] later this year, then put into effect by August 13 next year. Until then Temporary Class Drug Notices will be in place to prevent banned drugs from reentering the market. The country's Ministry of Health [official website] had previously reported [official statement] that the current legislation has been ineffective in keeping pace with the rapid growth in psychoactive substances. Also the Cabinet [official website] has reportedly agreed to the new legislation.

Psychotropic substances have been an issue worldwide. The UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances [materials] was signed [JURIST news archive] in Vienna, Austria on February 21, 1971. The Convention was intended to regulate psychotropic substances extending the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs [materials] regulating cannabis-, cocoa- and opium-based drugs. In 1981 the UN Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances [materials] was passed to deal with international drug manufacture, possession and distribution, primarily in organized crime. The Convention include 175 nations that have their own laws implementing the Convention within their own boundaries, such as the US Psychotropic Substances Act, the UK Misuse of Drugs Act and the Canadian Controlled Substances Act [texts].

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