Regulators around the world have been scrambling to control the onslaught of psychoactive synthetic drugs flooding the market. These drugs are made to replicate the same highs obtained from different illegal drugs, but are technically legal, due to their chemical makeup.
Musician and social activist Matt Bowden has been one of the biggest proponents of regulation for testing and approving these synthetic drugs in New Zealand. After losing close friends and family members to illegal drug use, Bowden has spent his life working to develop safer legal highs. He also spends his time designing clothes and writing and performing steampunk rock music.
On this episode of Hamilton's Pharmacopia, VICE's Hamilton Morris meets Bowden in New Zealand, and then the two head off to a cannabinoid factory in China to check out how these synthetic drugs are made and film a music video for Bowden's epic steampunk rock opera. We find out more about New Zealand's legal high gray area and why Bowden continues to crusade for a future of drug control.