Anti-drug activists use 'loophole'
An urgent submission on ways to curb the sale of synthetic cannabis in the region is to be made to the Marlborough District Council.
Concerned Marlborough Youth Workers' Collective members organised a meeting in Blenheim on Friday. About 25 people attended, including youth workers, Marlborough youth, councillors, candidates and mayor Alistair Sowman.
Marlborough Drug Arm chairman Roy Ramsey said the draft would make use of provisions in the Psychoactive Substances Bill which enabled councils to restrict sales locally.
A buffer zone prohibiting the drugs' sale around schools, drug and alcohol treatment centres, churches and areas in central Blenheim would be proposed, Mr Ramsey said.
"It's very important to stop our vulnerable youth getting sucked in just so people can make some money."
A council spokeswoman said a sub-committee had been set up to look at the submission and to make recommendations to the new council.
The council did not have the power to ban legal highs, but it could create a policy around the conditions of sale, including location and trading hours.
If the policy was accepted, it would be put out for public consultation.
Council candidate Aaron Goodwin attended the meeting and said banning the sale of synthetic drugs was one of his top priorities. The problem was rife in Marlborough, he said.
In the past three weeks, he had been approached by at least six young people asking him to buy the product for them.
He knew about 20 people who were affected by the drug and suffered side effects including insomnia and violent rages.
"I'd like to see a ban, but because we can't do that, there are loopholes we can exploit."
The submission would include ways to help addicts quit the drugs, he said.
"There is a healing process to go through."
Prospective and sitting councillors were all against the sale of synthetic cannabis, he said.
Mr Goodwin used synthetic cannabis about "three or four times" in November last year, before he realised that although it was legal, it didn't mean it was safe, he said.
He was optimistic about the submission.
"Marlborough wants to set an example."
- The Marlborough Express