Clutha youth fight meth use in dis­trict

The Southland Times - - Front Page -

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.

STUFF

Clutha-Taieri area com­man­der Se­nior Sergeant Cyn­thia Fair­ley.

MARY-JO TOHILL/STUFF

Clutha Dis­trict Youth Coun­cil chair­man Bron­son Black­bourn.

Damien O’Con­nor

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