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Manawatu Standard - - FRONT PAGE -

to call an am­bu­lance for his son.

James said watch­ing on help­lessly as his son was re­sus­ci­tated in his own drive­way was a hor­rific ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘‘They put him on a gur­ney and he was thrash­ing and strug­gling so they had to sit on him so the am­bu­lance staff could work on him. They had to re­sus­ci­tate him.’’

James said his son knew he had a prob­lem, but get­ting help was dif­fi­cult.

‘‘I’ve tried ev­ery agency over the years.’’

When syn­thetic cannabis was le­gal, James said two of his sons started tak­ing it, and when it was banned they both had with­drawals. ‘‘That was sim­ply aw­ful. ‘‘It was re­ally ghastly stuff – the tem­per tantrums the vi­o­lence, punch­ing walls.’’

Since it be­came il­le­gal, syn­thetic drugs be­came even worse, as there were no con­trols over them. ‘‘It’s the wild west.’’ James said at a com­mu­nity level, not enough was be­ing done to keep young peo­ple safe.

‘‘There aren’t enough youth pro­grams and youth tran­si­tion cour­ses are re­volv­ing doors, with noth­ing at the end of it.

‘‘There is lit­tle for young peo­ple who the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem has

‘‘There is lit­tle for young peo­ple who the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem has failed.’’ Don James

failed.’’

Manawatu mayor He­len Wor­boys said the coun­cil was aware of the prob­lem and were be­ing proac­tive about try­ing to make a change.

‘‘The bot­tom line is it isn’t ac­cept­able any­where, least of all in our com­mu­nity.’’

The coun­cil had re­cently cre­ated a youth fo­cus group and Wor­boys said it met on Mon­day to dis­cuss what could be done.

‘‘I asked the ques­tion ‘what can we do to help?’ We all just feel help­less.’’

The group de­cided the first step was to have a pub­lic meet­ing, bring­ing to­gether po­lice, St John and other im­por­tant agen­cies to let peo­ple know what was hap­pen­ing and where they could get help.

Wor­boys said the group dis­cussed go­ing into schools around Feild­ing to talk to kids and try to get the mes­sage out there be­fore they got hooked.

Plans were also be­ing put in place to or­gan­ise school hol­i­day ac­tiv­i­ties for kids to keep them en­gaged and en­ter­tained.

Feild­ing chief fire of­fi­cer Bradley Shanks said the bri­gade had been called to a few syn­thetic cannabis cases in the past few weeks, since the bad batch hit the area.

Staff re­ceived train­ing to deal with th­ese type of call­outs, he said.

Chief Coroner Judge Deb­o­rah Mar­shall said there had been sev­eral deaths po­ten­tially re­lated to the use of syn­thetic drugs since a pub­lic warn­ing was is­sued in July.

The Of­fice of the Chief Coroner had about 20 cases un­der review where syn­thetic drugs were a pos­si­ble cause of death.

PHOTO: MUR­RAY WIL­SON/STUFF

Don James is speak­ing out about the af­fect syn­thetic cannabis has on users.

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