Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne is advising retailers and the public that the product commonly known as "Spice," and sold as a 'legal high,' in fact contains an illegal substance.
The Ministry of Health arranged for the ESR to test three varieties of Spice and a related product marketed as "Dream”, after German tests showed Spice contained the 1,1-dimethyloctyl homologue of the substance CP 47,497, a synthetic substance substantially similar to the main active component of cannabis.
The ESR testing identified the same results, finding that Spice is adulterated with a substance substantially similar to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and is therefore a Class C controlled drug.
"Given the ESR's findings, retailers need to stop selling these products. I have referred the matter to the Ministry of Health, the police and Customs to take the appropriate actions,” Mr Dunne said.
"I am also cautioning those who may use this substance that using any drug involves risk, but the risks in this case are further exacerbated by the fact that very little is known about the toxicity of this substance.
“It is crucial that we remain vigilant and keep strong controls over the substances that are out there,” he said.
Spice is the brand name given to a product containing a mix of plant matter that purports to be a legal alternative to cannabis. The ingredients listed in Spice include the herbs Canavalia maritima, Nymphaea caerulea, Scutellaria nana, Pedicularis densiflora, Leonotis leonurus, Zornia latifolia, Nelumbo nucifera and Leonurus sibiricus. Users report that when Spice is smoked the effects are similar to that of cannabis, although longer lasting.
Spice is widely available in New Zealand from “party pill” stores and from online vendors. There are three different strengths of Spice for sale under the names “Spice”, “Spice Gold”, and “Spice Diamond", and other related products such as "Dream". All have returned results showing they have been adulterated with a substance that, in the view of the Ministry of Health and ESR, is illegal.
In January 2009, a German laboratory advised that they it had successfully identified the 1,1-dimethyloctyl homologue of the substance CP 47,497 in a Spice product. CP 47,497 is a synthetic cannabinoid type substance with similar pharmacological effects to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active component of the cannabis plant.
Press Release: New Zealand Government, Hon Peter Dunne, Associate Minister of Health
Wednesday, 1 April 2009 Media Release