New Zealand Does a 180 on Synthetic Weed
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New Zealand Does a 180 on Synthetic Weed


Did you know there was such a thing as synthetic weed? Maybe I’m, like, wayyyyyy behind the times, but I had no clue. In any case, in New Zealand, synthetic smokers are now being encouraged to seek help or “face violent withdrawals” after being forced to stop their habit cold turkey when the government reversed the synthetic drug laws last week.

Weed Withdrawal: It’s Real

Again, maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t realize stopping pot use (synthetic or real) cold turkey could cause legit withdrawals of any kind! Gah. But apparently it’s true. When heavy users attempt to do without, they can experience extreme sweating and sleeplessness, not to mention psychotic episodes and suicidal thoughts.

The law’s original aim was to make it possible for NZ residents to get high on various kinds of synthetic goodies that were tested and proven to be safer and lower-risk than the real/hard stuff. So, according to VICE, “In the interim there were 36 products that could be purchased at approved dealers around the country.”

Parliament has stopped all that nonsense, though, by passing a new bill that makes it illegal to “possess, sell, or supply any party with pills or synthetic cannabis.” The punishment for breaking that law is anything but melllllllllow, dude—violators could go to prison for up to two years, or get fined up to NZ$500,000 ($433,500 in American dollars).

Synthetic Suffering

But the new laws are causing synthetic pot users to face potentially scary and serious withdrawal side effects.

I’ll be honest: until now, I only thought of maryjane as addictive on an emotional level. I honestly never fully subscribed to (or understood) the notion that it’s seriously physically addictive. But synthetic marijuana is clearly a whole other story, with experts calling it “significantly addictive.” And even as a “fun” drug, it doesn’t sound all that, uh, fun. Anxiety, paranoia and hallucinations? No thanks.

So good luck to the New Zealanders out there who have to kick. Maybe ya’ll wanna just smoke some regular old pot instead?

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About Author

Laura Barcella is a documentary researcher, author, freelance writer and ghostwriter from Washington, DC. Her writing has also appeared in TIME, Marie Claire, Salon, Esquire, Elle, Refinery29, AlterNet, The Village Voice, Cosmopolitan, The Chicago Sun-Times, Time Out New York, BUST, ELLE Girl, NYLON and Her book credits include Know Your Rights: A Modern Kid's Guide to the American Constitution, Fight Like a Girl: 50 Feminists Who Changed the World, Popular: The Ups and Downs of Online Dating from the Most Popular Girl in New York City, Madonna & Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop and The End: 50 Apocalyptic Visions From Pop Culture That You Should Know About…Before It’s Too Late.