Oh look, an unregulated industry!

So there’s this stuff called Dime. It’s been sold as a legal high in NZ for a grand total of about three weeks. Now someone’s ‘discovered’ that it may contain one of the 2C analogues, which are classified here as Class C, the same level as cannabis. Naturally, the sale has now been stopped.

The importer apparently never bothered to test the stuff to see if it had anything illegal in it, because it was taken on trust that it would be fine.

Colour me completely unsurprised that someone is being irresponsible in the legal high market. This industry is almost completely unregulated, the government having instead elected to go for a prohibition and criminalisation approach to new substances. There was a small glimmer of hope when a Class D was added to the Misuse of Drugs Act. It was thought that this would become a ‘holding class’ for untested new substances while it was decided how to regulate them and their safety was tested. Instead, the only things in Class D are precursor substances, and the legal high market remains unregulated.

What this means is that people can import stuff without testing it, and then sell it to the public. Remember when it was found that Kronic contained benzos?. Same thing. There is no requirement for these things to be tested at all, never mind proven safe before sale. And then people are surprised when folks import things that may be dodgy.

Personally, I don’t think the 2C analogues are particularly dodgy – at least, not the ones that have achieved status as substances in this country. They were synthesised by Alexander Shulgin, who is perhaps most well known for the resynthesis and popularisation of MDMA. Man has an interesting history – but one of the important things about him and his 2C analogues is that his process and testing were all meticulously recorded in a set of books that are available for anyone to read. In terms of information of both the scientific and subjective experience nature, these substances are much more transparent than many other substances available today. They are certainly more transparent than the ‘other piperazines’ that were in some of the party pills you could buy in 2007. So in terms of safety and education and prior knowledge, a pill containing a 2C is probably safer than one containing a benzo, or one that you don’t know what’s in it.

And that’s the problem. This dime stuff was being sold without people knowing what was in it and I place the blame for that squarely at the feet of this government that refuses to seriously address the issue of legal high regulation. In this case, dime will be taken off the market if it’s found to contain a prohibited substance – the 2Cs are already illegal so it’s a simple matter. But if they really gave a crap about people’s safety, why is there no requirement for new legal highs to be tested to ascertain their contents before they hit the market? Why is there no labelling requirement so that people know what they are ingesting, the way alcohol is required to be labelled? How does someone get to import something from Poland that’s made in China and sell it to kiwis and not bloody well know what’s in it? And how do people who are that irresponsible get to be in a position to sell things?

It happens because of the head in the sand attitude of our government which continues to believe that trying to prevent people from using anything other than alcohol is the best way to approach ‘the drug problem’.

Hint: approximately 17% of NZers have used an illegal substance in the last year. Of those, only about 3% experience difficulties due to their substance use. Is there really ‘a drug problem’ in this country?

Frankly, I think the 2Cs would be a good opportunity to test out a regulatory framework for legal highs in this country. What do you reckon the odds are of that happening when this is the sort of data we are using to judge a substance in the public sphere:

““Because it’s such a tiny amount of powder which does something for so long, there must be some pretty hard-out chemicals in it.”” ~ Random 19 year old.


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