Legal high ban creates concern
Months of nationwide pressure to ban synthetic cannabis has finally swayed the government but it could be too little too late for those already addicted.
The weekend brought the Government’s announcement of legislation to ban synthetics until they are deemed low risk.
The ban will be pushed through under urgency on May 8.
But anti-synthetic campaigner Julie King said while it is the right move, the delay in banning the legal highs has only seen the number of addicts grow.
‘‘It’s not something that I can jump up and down over,’’ she said.
‘‘People will still find those drugs, but at least it is not right in front of them,’’ she said.
Prior to the announcement, King started a support group for those addicted to the substances.
‘‘ We just want to let them know we care,’’ she said.
The group is still in planning stages and King said she would need to seek professionals to help those who are addicted.
Habitual users approached by the
had mixed reactions too.
Curtis, a smoker who did not want to give his last name, said the synthetics were an easy option because they were legal.
He believed smokers would lose their jobs because they would start smoking marijuana.
He also predicted a negative effect once the ban is in place.
‘‘A lot of people are going to get angry,’’ he said.
Another user Tim Cassidy said the ban would create a black market.
‘‘I have no doubt it will go underground and be controlled by gangs and drug lords. I started taking this cause I use to smoke marijuana for 15 years and got sick of dealing with tinnie houses and having illegal stuff on me.’’
Separated by one shop is the Export Meat Warehouse.
Owner Ivan Gray said his customers and employees will certainly be better off when the ban takes effect.
‘‘ There’s been a certain amount of begging,’’ he said. ‘‘Hopefully we won’t have as many as people loitering.’’ Tokoroa Hospital manager Joanne
Knight also wel- comed the ban and hoped her staff would no longer have to deal with patients on a synthetic high.
‘‘ The staff have to deal with aggression, verbal abuse, having to manage patients who are so physically affected by these products that they can often not work, talk or control their sense in any way.’’
South Waikato District council chief executive Craig Hobbs said the council had no idea the announcement was coming.
‘‘ We welcome it, we are just wondering what took them so long, as we had asked this question less than a month ago.’’
The ban comes after the council worked on the final stages of a Local Approved Products Policy(LAPP).
The $4000 LAPP is set to be released for public consultation on May 7 and communications manager Kerry Fabrie said it will still go forward.
‘‘Council has no intention of delaying the consultation unnecessarily regardless of the recent announcement.’’
Fabrie said the council shared concern over the aftermath of the ban. ‘‘ We do have some concern over the impact on social organisations like the health care and counselling systems as people who are addicted to these substances
no longer have