BZP ban boosted the illegal drug market, survey shows
A survey of Otago University students has found the ban on party pill ingredient BZP has only boosted the illegal drug market.
One in six students said they were more likely to take ecstasy as a replacement following the BZP ban in April.
Party pills containing BZP are gone, but they have already been replaced by similar products.
"They were using BZP as a part of the nightclub scene, and so I think ecstasy is probably another thing which is very much associated with that scene," says Otago University researcher James Green. "It has potentially relatively the same kind of effect."
One hundred and twenty Otago students took part in the research. A third of those admitted they would continue taking BZP if it was still in the shops, and half of that group admitted they had turned to illegal drugs like ecstasy.
The result of the survey comes as no surprise on campus.
"Most people will probably go for more illegal drugs because they are harder to get, but they are probably better in a way," says one student 3 News spoke to.
"I think people might go for the illegal ones if they are already kind of into the drug scene," says another.
"I think there will definitely be some people that will go for the heavier drugs, but in saying that there may be some who just stop it all together," says a third.
BZP was outlawed in April, and while Mr Green is glad it is gone, he is concerned party pill users have been left with little alternative.
"When you make something less available or more expensive, you have to think about well, what are they going to choose instead?" he asks. "I don't think it's realistic to say that you're going to ban BZP and people are just not going to take anything."
Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton, who pushed for the BZP ban, says there is no way it could boost the market for illegal drugs, and is encouraged by the results.
"I'm very enthused about the fact two thirds of people who used to use BZP say they're not going to use it again," says Anderton. "That's the best news of the day."
Mr Green is not convinced, and just hopes if second generation pills are the next target, the Government will think long and hard about just what they will be replaced with.