A Temporary Class Drug Notice banning a substance found in tested samples of the K2 synthetic cannabis product has been annoucned today by Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne.
K2 has recently caused concern in communities including the Bay of Plenty, where it has been connected to a number of incidents and its use has been tied to elevated heart rate, vomiting, anxiety and psychosis.
A substance identified as EAM-2201 was found in two K2 products seized by police from a retail outlet and will now be subject to a temporary drug notice taking effect from Thursday, December 6.
From that date, it will be illegal to import, manufacture, sell or supply the substance.
Mr Dunne said: "The Health Ministry considers that EAM-2201 poses a risk at least comparable to other already banned synthetic cannabis substances, therefore I have made the decision that it needs to be banned.
"This is clearly not a product we want in the market place, and the fact that it is on the market tells you that we have an industry that does not give a damn about the safety of its customers."
Under this order, which will stay in force for 12 months, any product containing EAM-2201 must be off the market.
Mr Dunne said a permanent psychoactive substances regime will be in place by the middle of next year, reversing the onus of proof so manufacturers and distributors will have to prove their products are safe before they can sell them.
Products that pass testing will still have age and other restrictions applied.
"The regime will fix this industry once and for all and make it comply with proper standards. K2 is just another example of why you cannot trust these people to self-regulate and conduct themselves responsibly," Mr Dunne said.
"Temporary Class Drug Notices were always a holding pen until we could bring in permanent legislation, and they have done the job well. With this latest ban, we have now removed 32 substances, and therefore effectively more than 50 products, from the market," he said.