For the first time, a new synthetic drug has been found in New Zealand with feedback that it caused extreme anxiety in a user.
The MDMB-5Br-INACA, or Mysterious White Powder, is a new synthetic cannabinoid that is unrelated to cannabis, but hits the same receptors in the brain, with effects similar to THC, such as euphoria and a sense of relaxation.
The drug can hit those receptors much harder than cannabis, resulting in negative effects.
The new cannabinoid has been identified by the non-profit organization Know Your Stuff NZ.
The organization tests substances voluntarily brought in by consumers for safety analysis.
General manager Andy Allison said because the substance was new, there was no information about how potent or risky it was.
“It’s the first time it’s been seen in Aotearoa and it’s also the first time we know of anyone ingesting it.
“Very little is known about it. What we do know is that the only person we know of who took it thinking it was MDMA had a very unpleasant time, very rapid onset, extreme anxiety and just felt very unwell.”
war on drugs
The last Index of illicit drug harm has estimated that nearly 60,000 kilograms of illegal drugs were consumed by New Zealanders in 2019, the bulk of which was cannabis.
Allison said a ban never worked.
“It’s very clear that prohibition doesn’t work. We’ve been doing it for 50 years and they’ve only increased the penalty and brought more drugs under the ban.
“And it hasn’t reduced the harm, it hasn’t reduced the use. We have more people using drugs than ever before and more people being harmed by drugs than ever before.”
Know Your Stuff NZ says criminalizing substances won’t stop the illegal market.
“Underground chemists are just making different drugs. Those new drugs will only be designed to get around laws and restrictions so people can legally manufacture and sell them, rather than designed to be less risky or more fun.”
“Cannabis will be banned? Chemists are making synthetic cannabinoids. Cannabinoids be banned? Chemists are making other, more potent synthetic cannabinoids. And so it goes,” the organization said in one of its online articles.
In a statement, the Ministry of Health said Medsafe has been notified of the presence of the substance through communication with other agencies.
It says it is currently working with other industry agencies to learn more about it soon.