Clutha youth fight meth use in district
Clutha youth are planning to launch a campaign to halt the spread of illegal drugs such as methamphetamine in the district.
Clutha District Youth Council has asked for a grant of $10,000 from the Clutha District Council to help get started, and will find out if the request has been successful when the council meets on Wednesday.
In a submission to the council’s Long Term Plan this week, youth council chairman Bronson Blackbourn, who attends Tokomairiro High School in Milton, said a campaign of this magnitude needed to be initiated by young people.
‘‘A message like this typically is not taken notice of when driven by adults . . . it means more to them and other young people to hear that what they are doing affects everyone, not just themselves.’’
However, it was acknowledged in the submission that statistically, 35-yea-old mothers were also a demographic trend for illegal substance use such as meth.
This was confirmed by CluthaTaieri area commander Senior Sergeant Cynthia Fairley, of Balclutha who spoke in support of the submission.
‘‘It is a fallacy that the user is the unemployed white male, dressed in black, hiding in the shadows.
‘‘This drug crosses all demographics and affects all families.’’
There was a need for more prevention and awareness of drug use in the district, she said.
‘‘Methamphetamine is here. It is real and it is common place. In the current climate it is more readily accessible than cannabis or any other substance (besides alcohol)’’.
Clutha police had been involved in two meth busts in the past six months at Balclutha in October and Milton last month.
In data obtained under the Official Information Act from the Ministry of Justice, the number of people charged with meth-related offences in New Zealand had more than doubled in the past five years, with the courts dealing with 1773 people in 2012-2013 (1215 convictions) and 2909 in 2016-2017 (2199 convictions).
In the same time period, offences in Otago had risen from 12 to 44, with 10 convictions in 2012-2013 and 33 convictions in 2016-2017.
Factors in the spread of meth in New Zealand and the district was its portability and ease of manufacture, Fairley said.
‘‘It is easily transportable, easily hidden, it does not have an aroma and can be purchased in small amounts to get a hit.’’
It was also easily made, in a house, kitchen, car boot and motel unit
The chemicals to make meth were also readily available.
For gangs and distributors of the drug, it was a highly profitable business, and there was less chance of being caught, compared with growing cannabis plants in a shed or in the bush, she said.
It was also highly addictive.
In the past year since her posting to south Otago, she had seen strong anecdotal evidence to suggest a meth increase ‘‘and drastic outcomes for people’’.
Blackbourn said his group wanted to initiate and drive an illegal substance use campaign that would be delivered across the Clutha District.
‘‘The youth of the district want to stand up to this and say that it is not acceptable and we want things to change.’’ Investigations are under way into how Mycoplasma bovis entered in New Zealand, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says.
Speaking at the Taranaki Federated Farmers annual meeting in Stratford yesterday, O’Connor said investigations were under way into how the cattle disease had arrived in the country.
He declined to comment further on activity related to M. bovis, a disease he described as ‘‘worse than foot and mouth’’.
‘‘In my view, this is worse and it’s worse than anything we’ve had because the animal health and farm management implications are far greater,’’ he said.
‘‘Foot and mouth you can identify really quickly, this takes three tests and then we’re still not sure. And it has a whole range of negative impacts on animal health and on farm management.’’
On Tuesday, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) updated the number of farms infected with M. bovis. Since the disease was first detected on July 21 last year, there had been 44 infected properties. Stock on five of those had been destroyed, leaving 39 infected and still with stock.
‘‘It is one single strain throughout the whole country so that would imply that it is still probably one source of infection,’’ O’Connor said.
‘‘In Ashburton we issued another 50 farms with Notices of Direction, from one farm where animals had gone out.’’
A notice is issued when stock movements are considered to pose a risk of spreading M. bovis.
O’Connor was still hopeful an entry
The campaign could include billboard promotional messaging, workshops and guest speakers to raise both awareness and funds to support the eradication of illegal substance use in the district, he said.
Clutha-Taieri area commander Senior Sergeant Cynthia Fairley.
Clutha District Youth Council chairman Bronson Blackbourn.