Party pill pulled from sale
31 October 2007
Stuff News (NZ)
Most of a controversial hallucinogenic product has been pulled off the shelves of Betty's Liquor Store after the management of the trust that runs the shop admits it "misinterpreted" the community over the substance..
The store has taken its higher strength supplies of Salvia Divinorum from its shelves in the past few days.
The unclassified smokable hallucinogenic drug is also known as Mexican tripping weed and is banned in Australia but is not covered by recent legislation in New Zealand which will ban party pills containing BZP.
Appalled members of the community have written letters to the Kaikoura Star over the past month calling for the store to get a "social conscience" and pull both Salvia and party pills from their shelves.
New Zealand drug experts have said the substance can potentially cause the user to inflict injury and is currently being investigated by the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs.
Salvia has been described as having "short lasting powerful visuals and profound insights, laughter and extraordinary physical sensations" and is also outlawed in Finland, Italy and some parts of the United States. It can be brought in pre-rolled joints or in one gram packets of differing strengths which cost from $20 to $50. The legal high can also be brought online.
St George Trust commercial manager Nigel Kerr, which operates Betty's Liquor, said the store had taken about 60 percent of higher strength Salvia stock off the shelves. However, Betty's still sold lower strength Salvia, which "would probably sell out pretty quickly". Mr Kerr said the store was currently having a "voluntary sell down" of party pills containing BZP and they should all be gone in three weeks.
"Party pills have been abused in multiple ways and it's time for them to drift off." Mr Kerr said when Betty's opened, another shop, Night 'n' Day, was selling party pills and suppliers had said there were no problems with the sale of the pills in Kaikoura which made those involved think it was accepted in the town. "We must have got confused on the community's opinion of party pills...if we had seen differently we would have acted differently." "I can't confirm we won't sell them again but at the moment we are not ordering anymore." "Ultimately we are waiting on the licensee's decision."
Mr Kerr said the Ministry of Health's decision not to include Salvia in the recent legislation and the fact it was legal "must be saying something".
The decision to pull the product was made after the business received a visit from the Kaikoura District Council. (KDC). Last week KDC environmental health officer David Shovel said a complaint had been laid against one party pill seller in Kaikoura.
He said there was no bylaw to stop the sale of party pills but the Sale of Liquor Act and Liquor Licensing Authority had questioned the suitability of selling alcohol and party pills at the same time as it brought host responsibility into question.
Kaikoura Night 'n' Day owners Bruce and Wendy Blackburn, who recently took the business over, took party pills off the shelves last week. The business did not like the thought of selling the product and said the public wanted them gone, Mrs Blackburn said.
Kaikoura liquor store Henry's had also taken party pills off the shelves because there was "too much controversy around them".
Kaikoura woman Niki Barr, who is a qualified social worker and has experience working with drug and alcohol users, had been approached by users in the community who were worried about the availability of Salvia for youth in the town and its potentially "devastating effects".
She was also concerned about the store's sale of party pills. Ms Barr said the people she had spoken to had used "all sorts of drugs" including P, ecstasy and marijuana, and had witnessed people walking through glass and assaulting others after smoking the product. She said Betty's should "get a social conscience" and stop selling Salvia and party pills.
Ms Barr and her parents wrote a letter to the Kaikoura Star recently urging the community to boycott the store, after it delivered discount cards to Kaikoura homes with 15 percent off all purchases and stating they sold a "full range of the latest party pills". "Party pills often lead to heavier drug use. Haven't we got enough drug and alcohol problems in our town already?" "We urge you to cut up your discount card and return it to Betty's as a statement showing that we do not want party pills in Kaikoura."
A second letter to the Kaikoura Star from local man Michael McCabe said he was also alarmed when he received the card. "While I realise selling party pills is not illegal, the jury is still out on the effects of these on the users. Let's try and create a safe environment for the great young people of this community and boycott Betty's and all sellers of party pills, many of them derived from dubious substances."
Kaikoura Mayor Kevin Heays also believed that sellers of Salvia should volunt-arily withdraw the substance. "If we can have a plastic bag free town, I'm sure we can have a party pill free town."
Family Violence Network coordinator Rupia Te Ua said the community would have the opportunity to learn about the effects of both party pills and illegal drugs during the Drug and Alcohol Awareness campaign at the Memorial Hall on November 28.