Ac­tion urged on syn­thetic drugs

Central Otago Mirror - - CENTRAL NEWS - By JESSICA MAD­DOCK

The Govern­ment is work­ing as fast as it can to ban syn­thetic cannabis, Waitaki MP Jac­qui Dean says. Vin­cent Com­mu­nity Board chair­per­son Clair Hig­gin­son said the board wrote to Ms Dean and Prime Min­is­ter John Key last week urg­ing them to tackle the prob­lem now, rather than wait un­til the Psy­choac­tive Sub­stances Bill be­comes law in Au­gust. But Ms Dean said Par­lia­ment was work­ing through the process of im­ple­ment­ing a new law as fast as it could. ‘‘Ev­ery

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is con­cerned about this is­sue, so we’re go­ing as quickly as pos­si­ble We’re al­ready well through the process - a short­ened process - of Par­lia­ment. ‘‘We’ve got to make good law, or the man­u­fac­tur­ers will get around it.’’ The process would Au­gust, she said. The Alexan­dra po­lice ex­pressed frus­tra­tion to the com­mu­nity board last month about the lack of tools they have to deal with the prob­lems caused by peo­ple who have smoked syn­thetic cannabis. Each time one of the in­gre­di­ents was banned, man­u­fac­tur­ers found a re­place­ment.

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in Thirty-four in­gre­di­ents have been pro­hib­ited since mid 2011. Na­tion­ally, po­lice deputy com­mis­sioner Mike Bush said of­fi­cers were see­ing the con­se­quences of syn­thetic cannabis use more and more. ‘‘Po­lice are find­ing that K2 and sim­i­lar sub­stances are be­com­ing an in­creas­ingly con­cern­ing fac­tor in a num­ber of crimes, in­clud­ing vi­o­lent of­fend­ing. ‘‘This is be­ing driven by peo­ple ei­ther com­mit­ting crime to get their hands on th­ese drugs, or com­mit­ting crimes while on them.’’ Seven ag­gra­vated rob­beries in the south­ern polic­ing dis­trict re­cently had been com­mit­ted by peo­ple us­ing weapons rang­ing from knives to firearms to de­mand syn­thetic cannabis prod­ucts. Po­lice were also con­cerned about the num­ber of young peo­ple in­volved in in­ci­dents where syn­thetic cannabis use was a fac­tor, and about the health prob­lems the prod­ucts were caus­ing, in­clud­ing in­creased heart rates and seizures. The only Cen­tral Otago shop which sells syn­thetic cannabis prod­ucts, C and C Traders in Alexan­dra, has been widely crit­i­cised. Ms Dean said mem­bers of sev­eral com­mu­ni­ties through­out the coun­try had con­fronted shop own­ers sell­ing the prod­ucts. ‘‘I take my hat off to any­one pre­pared to do that. ‘‘I commend the (Vin­cent) Com­mu­nity Board for be­ing pre­pared to stand up on this is­sue.’’ Ms Hig­gin­son said the Alexan­dra Youth Fo­rum had also ex­pressed con­cern about the prod­ucts to the board and frus­tra­tion over how lit­tle the po­lice could do about the prob­lems they were caus­ing un­til the bill was passed into law. The new leg­is­la­tion would re­quire man­u­fac­tur­ers and dis­trib­u­tors of the prod­ucts to prove they were safe be­fore sell­ing them.

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