Outlets put K2 on special before ban
Six Invercargill shops, including a dairy next to a school, were selling legal high K2 this week despite the drug being blamed by police and health authorities for tearing lives apart.
The Southland Times visited the 25 dairies and legal high shops it is aware of in Invercargill to find out who was selling the controversial brand of synthetic cannabis.
Four dairies sold K2 and other legal highs- Rugby Park FoodCentre, Crinan Street Dairy, Southside 7 Dairy and Stapleton Street Dairy. Two other stores in the city - Impuls'd and Pillz & Thrillz - also sold K2 and other legal highs.
Herbys Wholesale in Glengarry, which offers customers a 24-hour service, sold synthetic cannabis brands but not K2, a staff member said.
Despite it being legal to sell K2 in its current form until tomorrow, there has been a call from some in the community to name the stores selling it because of the harm it is doing to youth and their families.
Several of the six Invercargill stores were selling K2 on special this week, ahead of tomorrow's nationwide ban on selling K2 in its current form.
Southside Seven Dairy and Stapleton Street Dairy owner Kelvin Lin said his stores would stop selling K2 and all other synthetic cannabis products from tomorrow.
The decision to stop selling all the products was a combination of "getting too much trouble" from selling the legal highs and also "to do his bit" for the community.
His Stapleton Street Dairy had been robbed several times during the past year with thieves targeting the synthetic cannabis stocks along with cigarettes and cash..
Rugby Park FoodCentre owner Murray Baird, whose dairy is next door to Southland Girls' High School, refused to respond when asked if it was appropriate to sell K2 in a shop so close to a school.
Baird turned his back and walked away while being questioned by The Southland Times.
The Crinan Street Dairy, also owned by Baird, offered K2 and several other brands of synthetic cannabis.
Rian Murphy from Pillz and Thrillz said K2 may be banned
from tomorrow but other products would take its place.
He said they were selling K2 legally, just like a bottle shop sold alcohol. And like alcohol, in his experience he found it was the users and not the product that was the problem.
While media attention centred on K2 in incidents of violence and crime, alcohol always seemed to be a common factor as well, he said.
Impuls'd owner Warren Skill said he believed in "pro-choice" for people above the legal age, especially if people were made aware of the risks involved.
Skill said the products should only be sold in R18 premises and not be visible from the street.
Both Murphy and Skill said K2 and synthetic cannabis should not be sold in dairies because they were easily accessible to young people and could be close to schools.
Southland Girls' High School principal Yvonne Browning said she was against the sale of synthetic cannabis in all shops and her pupils were banned from going into the Rugby Park FoodCentre during school hours.
This was not only because the dairy sold synthetic cannabis; it also sold other items such as fizzy energy drinks which were banned from the school, she said.
However, she and other teachers could not control what pupils did after school.
Attendance Service officer and Invercargill city councillor Lindsay Thomas said he had seen first hand what K2 did to young people and believed sellers of the synthetic cannabis should have more social conscience.
There was an increasing cost to the community because of crime and health issues being created by people on K2, Thomas said.
"I was told by an upset dad that on Monday night his son almost died when he swallowed his tongue while on K2. It was just lucky someone was there who could help and save his life," he said.
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