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Chemicals found in K2 banned

Published: 3:59PM Tuesday April 30, 2013 Source: ONE News

Ingredients found in a synthetic cannabis linked to psychotic episodes and kidney failure have been banned today.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has issued a temporary class drug notice on two substances found in so-called 'legal high', K2.

The ban applies to the chemicals BB-22 and 5F-AKB48, and will come into effect on May 9.

It comes after weeks of media pressure, including ONE News stories which highlighted serious health concerns with the K2 product, putting some users in hospital and others is psychiatric wards.

"The Health Ministry considers that these particular substances pose a risk at least comparable to other already banned synthetic cannabis substances, therefore I have made the decision that it needs to be banned," Dunne said.

"And I encourage police enforcement of these bans at every opportunity, and I also encourage community pressure on dairies and other outlets that sell them.

"We need to apply pressure from all ends on a dirty industry until we can get our world-leading legislation in place."

Today's ban brings the total number of substances banned under temporary notices to 35, with 50 products containing those substances now off the shelves.

From next Thursday, it will be illegal to import, manufacture, sell or supply the substances, with penalties of up to eight years imprisonment.

Sergent Bevan Seal, who has been campaigning for dairies to stop selling it voluntarily, says the ban is "a big step in the right direction".

"It will be illegal to have it in the dairies, to import it, to sell it, to use it ... so we've got powers now to start prosecuting people if they have it," he said.

Medical experts are backing the ban as well, saying it will reduce hospital admissions.

"We notice once more analogues are banned, there's a drop in the calls to the centre and that seems to be reflected in other parts of society," toxicologist Dr Leo Schep said.

Dunne said the ban was "another blow" to the industry, but said he was "counting the weeks" until August when the Psychoactive Substances Bill is expected to pass into law.

Submissions on the legislation close tomorrow, and the Health Select Committee is due to report the Bill back to Parliament in mid-June.

"What this ban will do in the meantime is force more of the K2 product off the shelves and that is the best outcome we can have at this point with a product that is clearly bad for people," he said.

Dunne also hit out at the industry and outlets which sell such products as having "not integrity whatsoever".

"There is no goodwill and there is no decency in this industry, and that is why we are legislating. They prove day-in and day-out that they cannot be trusted," he added.

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