New drug 'Z' has police worried

BY SALLY KIDSON
Last updated 13:17 11/11/2009

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A new drug circulating in Nelson called Z, which is leading to some users suffering "acute psychotic experiences", is worrying police and drug support services.

Alcohol and Other Drug Services regional manager Eileen Varley said she had heard of people using Z for the past three to six months.

The drug, which came in a capsule, was a hallucinogen and could make users paranoid, she said.

Ms Varley said it wasn't being sold at outlets that sold "legal highs" or legal party pills in Nelson. She thought it could be coming to Nelson from Christchurch.

"We don't know enough about it, just the fact there's a lot of talk about, which makes us think there is something in it, obviously that people are getting a buzz about it."

Staff at the service were concerned about the drug, as people did not know much about it and the only information they had was from users, she said.

She could not say how many Z users the service had seen. It had been approached by police for help in dealing with the drug, she said.

Nelson's needle exchange (Niche) manager Stephen Farquhar said he didn't know what was in Z, but had heard reports, including that it contained caffeine or a substance called trifluoromethylphenylpiperazine or TFFMP, which was a banned substance like the party pill drug BZP.

He said he had been made aware "of more than one person, on more than one occasion", becoming unwell after taking the drug.

"It appears to be making people more prone to acute episodes of psychotic behaviour."

By that, he meant they became violent and irrational and saw and heard things that did not exist.

Mr Farquhar did not know how much it cost to buy Z.

A place for exchanging needles, Niche aims to reduce the harm associated with drugs.

Once support workers knew what was in Z, they would know what kind of advice they could give people about it, Mr Farquhar said.

He was unsure whether the drug was also being used in other parts of the country, and planned to ask about it at a national board meeting this week.

Senior Sergeant Wayne McCoy of the Nelson CIB said police had not yet been able to identify what sort of substance Z was.

Mr McCoy said he had heard of users becoming paranoid, and of cases where users contacted the police because they believed there were intruders in their home.

He said cannabis was still the most prevalent drug in the Nelson region.

Nelson party pill manufacturer Dale Johnsen said he had not heard of Z.

Mr Johnsen said he thought the party pill scene in Nelson had died back since BZP was banned in April last year.

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He was still making, selling and distributing pills but mostly to overseas markets. "It's a bit gloomy."

New Zealand Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said he had not heard of Z, and speculated that it could be a local slang name for a drug such as ecstasy or a prescription medicine such as ritalin that had made its way on to the black market.

The foundation has a texting service where people can send it the slang names for drugs.

* Comments are now closed on this story.

- The Nelson Mail

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