Australian Customs has blocked the importation of legal "party pills" which mimic the effects of illegal drugs such as ecstasy.
PerthNow understands the Therapeutic Goods Administration also seized shipments of similar products, after a Perth man suffered a stroke after he took more than the recommended dosage of herbal based products.
Retailers and producers of these products were concerned the move would lead to more people doing illegal drugs.
Manufactured by New Zealand company Lightyears, “party pills” have a range of products which give a "legal high".
Owner Matthew Wielenga said he did not know what justification Customs were using to detain $50,000 worth of his stock “for further inspection” and insisted all his products contained only natural ingredients.
Doctors warn of dangers: click here
“These products are sold all over the world and accepted by other countries, because they only contain natural ingredients,” Mr Wielenga said.
Mr Wielenga said they recently had all their products and ingredients cleared for sale in all European Union countries but “customs in Australia are giving us a really hard time.”
The Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement states a good that may be legally sold in Australia may be sold in New Zealand, and vice versa.
A Customs and Border Protection spokesperson told PerthNow they were acting on behalf of the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
The TGA have refused to answer any questions.
PerthNow understands the TGA are investigating the whole range of “party pills” and the legal pill “Blessed”, part of the “A-class” range, also produced in New Zealand.
A man allegedly suffered a stroke at Fremantle Hospital about five months ago when he took two Blessed pills and an “urban shaman”, a product which allegedly contained substances that had been banned in China, and no longer in supply.
This dosage exceeded the limit recommended on the back of the packaging, which also said the products should not be taken with alcohol—a friend of the man said the stroke victim had consumed alcohol at The Norfolk Hotel.
It is also alleged the man had a caffeine intolerance and was on anti-depressants.
Two weeks ago the TGA raided the Perth retailer who sold the man the tablets, ceased all their products and stopped them trading.
The founder of the alternative party pill industry and director of Social Tonics Association of New Zealand Matt Bowden, came up with a BZP based party pill after a family member died of ecstasy--he also had a methamphetamine addiction and so was determined to find a less addictive and potent alternative.
The New Zealand government banned BZP based party pills in April last year but Mr Bowden disputed the evidence used to implement the ban.
“In New Zealand…when drug alternatives were made illegal, research clearly showed consumers were turned to the more dangerous and illegal drugs,” Mr Bowden told Perthnow.
TV3 News in New Zealand reported that researcher Chris Wilkins from Massey University had discovered the BZP ban meant people were doing more ecstasy.
“One drug dealer said that after the BZP ban, his ring went from selling 500 ecstasy pills a month to 5000 a week,” TV3 reported.
Mr Wielenga was also adamant more people would use illegal drugs if alternatives were banned.
November 6, 2009