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Controlling new psychoactive substances in New Zealand

Abstract

The emergence of new psychoactive substances into the global drug market has presented challenges for effective drug legislation and enforcement. One approach to prohibition uses controlled drug analogue legislation, which involves assessing the structural similarity of new substances compared to listed controlled drugs, as opposed to the new substance being specifically listed in legislation itself. An issue arises of there being no clear definition for what constitutes similarity between two substances, and as such, there is level of subjectivity in any decision made. This paper outlines the global and local drug scene in New Zealand, including the emergence of new psychoactive substances, and the legislation that is available for the control of illicit substances in a New Zealand context and the current method for considering new psychoactive substances as potential controlled drug analogues. The authors go on to propose an alternative method to this assessment process, which involves an objective and reproducible similarity scoring mechanism.

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