Users of drug ‘like zom­bies’

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - KRIS DANDO AND VIR­GINIA FAL­LON

‘‘Their eyes are blood­shot, speech is slurred, they can barely stand up and have trou­ble func­tion­ing.’’

Po­lice fear that a new su­per­ad­dic­tive syn­thetic drug that has hit Porirua streets could be laced with meth.

Sergeant Matiu Grant said po­lice seized a large amount of syn­thetic cannabis in a Can­nons Creek raid last week and have sent it off to be tested, fear­ing that it has been laced with metham­phetamine.

The cannabis drug was likely be­hind a rise in bur­glary and theft in the city, as well as peo­ple beg­ging at Can­nons Creek shops, he said.

‘‘A lot of these guys beg­ging get up to $100 a day, and are buy­ing syn­thet­ics with it ... it’s mak­ing a mess of peo­ple.’’

It was likely the drug was be­ing bought into the city, not man­u­fac­tured here, Grant said.

‘‘We’re sure this is not just Porirua - it’s re­gion-wide and grow­ing na­tion­ally.’’

Porirua con­sta­ble Andy Alexan­der said $20 would buy 2.5g of syn­thetic cannabis and users be­came ‘‘like zom­bies’’.

‘‘Their eyes are blood­shot, speech is slurred, they can barely stand up and have trou­ble func­tion­ing.’’

All of Porirua’s Neigh­bour­hood Polic­ing Team mem­bers had con­tacts in the com­mu­nity that were af­fected in some way by syn­thetic cannabis, which was banned in 2014.

One po­lice of­fi­cer re­cently spoke to a woman whose part­ner ended up shiv­er­ing on the floor of their gar­den shed af­ter a ses­sion with the drug, but im­me­di­ately wanted more once he came off the high.

But a man who works with drug ad­dicts said it was un­likely the drug con­tained meth.

Drug coun­sel­lor Andrew Hop­good said mak­ers of syn­thetic cannabis might lace the drug with some­thing to give it ‘‘a speedy ef­fect’’, but he didn’t be­lieve it would be metham­phetamine.

‘‘They would smoke the meth in­stead.

‘‘It’s much more ex­pen­sive than syn­thet­ics, so it doesn’t make much sense.’’

Nail pol­ish re­mover was a com­mon in­gre­di­ent in syn­thetic cannabis, he said.

Porirua P-pull metham­phetamine sup­port group co-founder Liz Makalio said she had ‘‘heard whis­pers’’ about syn­thet­ics be­ing laced with other drugs.

‘‘They’re a huge prob­lem par­tic­u­larly for young men who can’t af­ford meth. The dam­age and ad­dic­tion it causes can be worse than meth.’’

Porirua school and col­lege prin­ci­pals were aware of the sit­u­a­tion, Aotea Col­lege’s Kate Gains­ford said.

‘‘It’s not what we saw two or three years ago, but we are putting good plans in place and keep­ing our re­la­tion­ships go­ing with po­lice,’’ she said.

‘‘The worry is we’re go­ing into that sum­mer pe­riod when young peo­ple have more time on their hands.’’

A re­cent Massey Univer­sity re­port showed that na­tion­ally ar­rests of peo­ple who have used syn­thetic cannabis in the past year dropped from 47 per cent in 2014 to 27 per cent in 2015.

That trend was be­ing bucked in Christchurch and, soon, Porirua po­lice said, in­ci­dents would rise in the city un­less the com­mu­nity be­came more vig­i­lant.

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