?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Panic over Kronic and other tales - Tactical Ninja

Jul. 1st, 2011

09:34 am - Panic over Kronic and other tales

Previous Entry Share Next Entry

Some of you have probably heard about the recall of Pineapple Express, a brand of Kronic (synthetic pot) that's been found to contain traces of the benzo phenazepam. From what I gather the manufacturers claim they were not aware that this had gone into the product, and sold it to the importer in good faith. Who knows what the truth is? However, Peter Dunne seems to be using this as an opportunity to grandstand his views about how all new products should be regulated and proven to be safe before being offered for sale. And something about cowboys.


For a start Stargate, the importer of Pineapple Express, is run by Matt Bowden. Matt Bowden was at the forefront of the introduction of BZP to New Zealand and has made a lot of money from it. Now I'm not naive enough to think that the continued ability to make money from recreational substances isn't at least in part a driver for Mr Bowden's actions - however, regardless of motivation he has also been at the forefront of harm minimisation lobbying since ~2000. He is the driving force behind STANZ (the Social Tonics Association of New Zealand), a body which amongst other things created a voluntary Code of Practice for manufacturers and distributors of BZP based products. Bowden wanted these substances to be regulated rather than banned.

The creation of Class D in 2005 seemed like a step in the right direction - here was a category where substances that were a little bit risky but not proven to be harmful could be placed under regulation. BZP immediately went in there, and what happened? The government placed minimum regulation on it, pills continued to be sold in over the recommended amounts, with no guarantees as to what else was in them, no testing, and no health warnings. Here's a press statement made by STANZ in 2007 in which they lay out a potential regulatory structure for BZP products, which goes much further than the minimal regulation imposed by the government. It was ignored, the market spun out of control, and eventually BZP was banned.

Now, we're facing the same situation with Kronic. This is slightly different in that we have a potentially dangerous substance that has found its way into a product, gone through importation and been sold to customers, all without anyone picking it up. Now, this sometimes happens with kids' toys too, but of course since this is a recreational drug we have a potential moral panic on our hands. And who better than Peter Dunne to stir it up with talk of unregulated markets and cowboys. However, do we think this will get Kronic regulated in a way that it can be tested to ensure quality and safety for customers, that it will be labelled to show what's in it and regularly checked to make sure nobody's sneaking anything dodgy in there? I doubt it, and here's why.

tl;dr on that article - our drug laws are a dog's breakfast consisting of the Medicines Act, the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act, and the Misuse of Drugs Act. They contradict each other and pretty much make it impossible for governments to regulate something sensibly and within a realistic timeframe. It's much simpler to ban it.

This year, the Law Commission released its report Controlling and Regulating Drugs, in which it recommended a full review of the classification system, a focus on harm, and specifically addressing how to deal with new recreational substances. It's widely seen as a progressive view which could genuinely reduce harm from substances already illegal, and risk from new substances.

Matt Bowden's response: "The current regime means that the market is flooded with untested and potentially unsafe products. Consumers often have no way to find out what they are taking. Requiring the manufacturers of psychoactives to show that their products can be safely used is a vital step in minimising the harm caused by drug abuse. Stargate recommended that the same toxicity testing used for testing new pharmaceutical medicines be used and the Law Commission have adopted this suggestion as the best way forward." So essentially, "Yay! Now let's get on with it."

Minister of Justice Simon Power's response: "There's not a single, solitary chance that as long as I'm the Minister of Justice we'll be relaxing drug laws in New Zealand." Essentially *fingers in ears* "LALALALALALA"


So when Peter Dunne starts talking about cowboys, and about how this wonderful idea he's had about regulating substances and testing them is so revolutionary and great, and how the likes of Matt Bowden are putting people at risk for their own profits, please take it with a grain of salt.

I have some idea who created this situation and who's tried to change it and who's resisted it in favour of more harmful approaches. And yes, Matt Bowden wants to make money, but it's pretty clear he wants to do it without killing people. Can our government say the same thing?

(cross posted to DrugR and tenchinage)

Comments:

[User Picture]
From:friggasmuse
Date:June 30th, 2011 09:50 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Ehh, yikes :/
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:tatjna
Date:June 30th, 2011 09:52 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I will find it incredibly amusing if they implement a reasonable regulatory structure with safety testing, and discover that cannabis is actually safer than any of these new products. Especially if they then compare with, say, alcohol. Or paracetamol..

;-)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:richdrich
Date:June 30th, 2011 10:43 pm (UTC)
(Link)
The problem, and I put this in my submission on the MODA review, is the nature of *safety* testing.

It costs millions to put a new pharmaceutical through safety testing (this paper suggests an average USD15million in 2000 dollars for phase I (initial safety) testing and another $30mln for phase II (safety and efficacy).

If the state is to assert that a drug is "safe enough to sell", then they are under some kind of moral (or even legal) responsibility if it turns out to be insidiously harmful. If they shortcut the tests, that will one day happen. Doing the kind of testing that ERMA require (which is generally for substances not recommended for ingestion) is clearly insufficient for this standard.

Which means that a morally robust testing regime would result in nothing being marketed. More likely, substances would simply be sold as not for ingestion, like these Bolivian Bath Salts.

The obvious solution would be to grandfather commonly used substances with known harms, like tobacco, alcohol, cocaine and MDMA. We know what they do, after all. Also, requiring recreational substances sold OTC to have an analysis done and the ingredients printed on the packet would be sensible.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:tatjna
Date:June 30th, 2011 10:48 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Unfortunately I don't know enough about economics to fully grasp the implications of cost of testing vs potential market, but it seems to me that if one of the biggest marketers of recreational substances is lobbying for full pharmaceutical testing, then they think it's worth it.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:Will Marshall
Date:July 3rd, 2011 10:24 pm (UTC)
(Link)
To a large extent, I'm willing to bet this would work *if* testing is more or less globally consistent: so you can test once and cover the cost across a global market.

I'd be skeptical of it working for the NZ market, in that A: the cost of testing would be the same, and B: the market here is tiny.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:vernacularity
Date:July 1st, 2011 12:28 am (UTC)
(Link)
if Matt Bowden indicates that "Consumers often have no way to find out what they are taking" is a bad thing, as per you quoting above, I am curious as to why his Kronic products don't have a list of ingredients on them. I guess I am not the only person to mention something like this in this area of discussion, just don't want to go clicking all over the net this morning.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:tatjna
Date:July 1st, 2011 12:31 am (UTC)
(Link)
Taking a wild stab in the dark here, I'm guessing that since Stargate is the importer and distributer of Kronic, the ingredients are not listed by the manufacturer. But yes, that avenue warrants further investigation.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:vernacularity
Date:July 3rd, 2011 11:51 pm (UTC)
(Link)
yeh, also, I mentioned in my own recent post about how i would be completely unsurprised to discover that "other stuff" might be in other Kronic flavours. in particular related to the purple haze kronic, as trying that over the weekend and late last week I noted a surprising ability to just keep on going with physical stuff. now as noted in my post this might be coincidental with coming off cigarettes + coming away from/off the stuff in Pineapple Kronic, ie a general return to normal physical health and stamina like wot I used to always have.

But.... it kinda seemed like something more, a bit like the endless energy you get from yer average go-juice no-no substance.

So I would not be surprised if some variety of speed might be found to be in there, but it could just be the actual "normal" stuff in the ingredients. maybe it;s got caffeine in there or something?

anyway...

I saw this morning in the noos that also the Super Strength Puff has the same stuff as the pineapple kronic. and is another I was into for a while till I decided it was killing me mentally/emotionally.

I am actually quite angry about this, alongside the understanding that hey I am an adult and I make my "choices" and take the "consequences", this is in the context of: people selling things when they haven't taken steps to find out what is REALLY in it, selling stuff KNOWINGLY AND DELIBERATELY INTENDED for human consumption and yet completely failing to even get a rudimentary list of ingredients on it, and I do not buy for one second that this crowd have a general social conscience: they want to make money same as the alcohol and tobacco industries want to, and they are crying for regulations now because others have followed their shady lead and are putting the industry in jeopardy. oh NO WAIT HANG ON: WHO is the one selling stuff with PRESCRIPTION MOOD DRUGS in it? the ones who claim to be calling for regulation and self-policing. Ha ha! Yeah! Right!

Same people who pushed BZP as a safe awesome option. Which it is NOT in my experience.

My take on it is similar to Dr Wheel's below, with emphasis on "cowboys".
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:ferrouswheel
Date:July 1st, 2011 05:02 am (UTC)
(Link)
When you outlaw the known recreational parks, then cowboys and the public have to start venturing into the jungle where dangerous things are.

s/parks/drugs/
s/jungle/research chemicals/
(Reply) (Thread)
(Deleted comment)