A Whangarei business owner selling legal highs is backing government regulations forcing tests involving human clinical trials, under new rules that could see manufacturers jailed for up to eight years.
Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne recently announced regulations for psychoactive substances, which would become law by next August.
Under the strict regime, manufacturers would have to pay an application fee of about $180,000 plus testing costs of up to $2 million before any new product was deemed safe for sale - a process that could take up to two years.
The rules would introduce a minimum purchase age of 18 and would restrict which outlets could sell the products, including a ban on dairy sales.
People caught with unapproved products could be fined $300 but it would not be a criminal offence, so young people would not be penalised.
Edward Jones, of The Brew Shop in Whangarei, said he welcomed the new regulations, saying it would mean the end of the fly-by-night manufacturers.
"We don't want to be in a position where we are providing a product that will hurt people.
"Proving that it is a safe product is a good step," Mr Jones said.
"It's going to regulate the manufacturers and get rid of the small players, and the bigger players are going to be more trusted."
The new regulations have the backing of Northland MP Mike Sabin, also a former drug enforcement detective and drug policy specialist.
"This regime will put an end to the cat-and-mouse game of constantly chasing down substances after they are on the market and, importantly, put the onus of proof for the safety of the consumer on those who manufacture and supply," Mr Sabin said.
In the meantime, all existing temporary class drug notices will be rolled over, so the 28 substances and more than 50 synthetic cannabis products already banned remain banned until the permanent regime is in place.
Last August, the Government used urgent legislation to ban 43 synthetic cannabis products on the market.