The Psychoactive Substances Act 2013

January 2018: The Psychoactive Substances Act 2013 has been reviewed. Find out more.

The purpose of the Act

The Act aims to regulate the availability of psychoactive substances in New Zealand to protect the health of, and minimise harm to, individuals who use psychoactive substances.

These substances and products must be approved for use and pose no more than a low risk of harm to the individuals who use it.


There are three sets of regulations that came into force on 3 November 2014. The Psychoactive Substances Regulations 2014 provide details on what is required for applications for product approvals and licences for importing, research, manufacturing, and sale of unapproved psychoactive substances to be processed. These details include what information is required to support that the product is low risk, what kinds of psychoactive product will not be able to be approved, labelling and packaging requirements, and record keeping.

The Psychoactive Substances (Fees and levies) Regulations 2014 set out the fees for each product approval and licence application, and annual levies for holding such approvals and licences.

The Psychoactive Substances (Infringement Fees and Form of Notices) Regulations 2014 set out the fee for infringements of the Act (specifically for breaking the age restrictions when supplying, buying and possessing of psychoactive substances, and for personal possession of a psychoactive substance that is not an approved product).

How the Act works

Licences must be obtained by people or businesses who wish to import, research, manufacture, wholesale and retail psychoactive substances and products.

The Act also restricts the sale of these products (when approved) to persons aged 18 years and above.

Before a product can be approved for use, the degree of harm must be assessed by the Authority on the advice of an expert advisory committee and evidence.

Powers under the Act

The Act specifies offences and provides for enforcement powers where there is evidence of potential breaches of the Act or regulations. Under the Act, the Psychoactive Substances Regulatory Authority, enforcement officers and NZ Police monitor and regulate access to low-risk products to ensure the products are safe for users.

Some city and district councils have a local approved product policy (LAPP) in place that will stipulate where products can be sold in order to protect their local community. If a retail licence is granted, the applicant will have to show compliance with their council LAPP (if the council has one in place).

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