Palmerston North teens as young as 14 are buying party pills and guzzling them in who-passes-out-first competitions.
The Government's move to make the previously R18 pills an illegal class C drug, like cannabis, from April 1 was warmly approved by Palmerston North Street Van co- ordinator and drug rehabilitation worker Lew Findlay.
"I think they've finally done something good here," he said.
Party pills, mixed with alcohol or cannabis, could be lethal. The High Court at Palmerston North heard this month that 20-year-old Ashley Arnopp had consumed a toxic mix of all three before the murder of Stanley Waipouri in 2006. Arnopp went to jail for 15 years, convicted of murder.
Restricting sales to people over 18 had not worked. Mr Findlay knew of 14-year-old regular users, and said 16- and 17-year-olds parked up by the Centennial Lagoon and held competitions to see who could take the most before passing out.
Sometimes P addicts tried to used party pills to get themselves off the harder drug. It didn't work. They suffered shattering headaches and health side effects.
"Party pills, BZP [benzylpiperazine], they're basically cattle drench, to stop worms. The kids who take them might as well squirt drench down their throats," Mr Findlay said. "The kids trying to get off them tell me it's a very limited, very little high, compared to the deep low that follows it."
He wasn't happy that pill users had been given a six-month amnesty to work through personal supplies. He predicted big sales of pills in the next couple of weeks. "I can name 10 places in Palmy where you can just walk in and get them."
Making the pills illegal might help stop young people experimenting with them. There were teens who wouldn't go the illegal substance route, he said.
Meanwhile, NZPA reports the ban on party pills is likely to make way for the introduction of a new range of pills with a different formula. Those pills were expected to be available for distribution soon. Sales of the remaining BZP-based pills are expected to be frantic as retailers get rid of the stock and users stock up.
- Manawatu Standard
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