Psychoactive substances are some of the ingredients used in different drugs that affect the mind. You might know such drugs as party pills, herbal highs, legal highs, synthetic cannabis or legal recreational drugs.

In 2013, the New Zealand Government introduced the Psychoactive Substances Act 2013 to control the importation, manufacture and sale of psychoactive substances in New Zealand.

Read more about the background to the Act and the regime

Important information for retailers

By the end of 2015 it is expected that the Psychoactive Substances Regulations 2014 will be amended to allow licences to sell approved products by retail to be applied for and issued. You can download a copy of the regulations from

Licence applications cost $12,000 in addition to the $7,000 annual levy. Licences can only be issued for a maximum of three years at a time.

Note: There are currently no approved products.

Due to the prohibition on the use of animal testing for the purposes of assessing whether a psychoactive product should be approved, it is unlikely that there will be any approved products for at least the next three years. On this basis, the Authority recommends that you do not apply for a licence to sell psychoactive substances by retail at this time.

If you still choose to apply for a licence, you can download an application form from the “Guidelines and application forms” link under “Quick links”.

Prospective retail sites must comply with the local approved products policy (LAPP) put in place by the territorial authority (city or district council) in which the site is located. You can find a list of territorial authorities and a link to their LAPPs under the “Guidelines and application forms” link under “Quick links”. You should check and make sure your retail site complies with the relevant LAPP before applying for a licence because application fees are unlikely to be refunded for failing to meet the LAPP.

For more information on licences to sell approved products by retail please refer to the Psychoactive Substances Guide to the Licensing Scheme which can be downloaded from the “Guidelines and application forms” link under “Quick links”.

News and Events

05/06/2015 News item Psychoactive Substances Retail Regulations
26/05/2015 Media release Minister concerned at reports of adverse reactions
01/05/2015 Update No applications for product approvals have been received.
20/03/2015 Voluntary recall Products containing 1,3-dimethylbutylamine (DMBA).

Questions? Concerns?

Psychoactive Substances hotline: 0800 789 652

Call if you have any questions or concerns about psychoactive substances in New Zealand.