THE RISKS

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

Med­i­cal staff and po­lice mop up the prob­lems caused by le­gal highs.

Auck­land City Hospi­tal deals with eight to 10 pa­tients a month who end up in its emer­gency depart­ment af­ter tak­ing them.

Adult emer­gency depart­ment clin­i­cal di­rec­tor Dr Anil Nair says the fact the drugs are le­gal cre­ates an il­lu­sion of safety.

‘‘It’s one of the more com­mon drugs we tend to see. It’s prob­a­bly the sec­ond big­gest thing next to al­co­hol.’’

Most pa­tients are suf­fer­ing mild ef­fects and of­ten take them­selves to hospi­tal be­cause of some­thing like an in­creased heart rate. ‘‘The ones we are more wor­ried about are the ones with psy­chotic symp­toms, we have to give them med­i­ca­tion to con­trol them and calm them down,’’ he says.

Auck­land Cen­tral Po­lice In­spec­tor Vaughn Gra­ham says there ap­pears to be a link be­tween the sale of le­gal highs and an in­crease in beg­ging in the CBD.

‘‘On a lot of oc­ca­sions that money will not be used for the pur­pose it was do­nated, of­ten the money is used to pur­chase al­co­hol and syn­thetic cannabis,’’ he says.

‘‘You can buy some prod­ucts for as lit­tle as $10 and they can eas­ily make that.’’

Gen­er­ally, re­tail­ers are stick­ing to their le­gal obli­ga­tions and there are very few com­plaints about stores breach­ing the law, he says.

Many com­plaints are about users smok­ing syn­thetic cannabis in pub­lic.

‘‘We would get one or two com­plaints ev­ery week about people smok­ing it from bongs on Queen St,’’ Mr Gra­ham says.

‘‘It def­i­nitely has an im­pact on people’s per­cep­tion of safety in the cen­tral city.’’

Mr Gra­ham wants to see re­stric­tions on the times the prod­ucts can be sold.

‘‘At the mo­ment shops can be open 24 hours a day. It flies in the face a bit of some of the work we’ve done around al­co­hol.’’

Med­i­cal view: Auck­land City Hospi­tal adult emer­gency depart­ment di­rec­tor Dr Anil Nair.

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