A father-of-five who turned to synthetic cannabis as a way to cheat drug tests says some retailers are offering big discounts in a bid to keep people hooked.
Hamish, who lives in Auckland, smoked marijuana for 30 years and says a friend introduced him to the substance Kronic seven months ago.
But he says his use of the product resulted in mood swings and sickness that have nearly destroyed his family and working life.
Giving up is tough when synthetic cannabis is so easily bought and Hamish wants to see it taken off the shelves.
He's a week clean but says the temptation is huge.
Some retailers even used to supply the products to him on credit.
"The guys at the shop got to know me so well. They'd be like, 'oh yeah, he'll be in every day' so they had no problem giving it to me cause they knew I'd be back to pay the next time.
One gave him a sample to try for free and another offered two packets for the price of one.
"They'd be like, 'embrace the addiction mate, embrace it and grab two'," he says.
Hamish says he was among other truck drivers who started smoking legal highs to get around compulsory workplace drug testing.
His use soon spiralled out of control.
"I'd have a couple of puffs after work ... my eldest daughter and my partner noticed big changes within the first week of me smoking it.
"I would have mood swings and I would lose my temper very quickly."
He says certain varieties left him so sick he couldn't work. But he soon found a synthetic substance he could handle, with disastrous results - pushing his habit from two packets a week to one every day.
The addiction became all consuming and he gave up his job just before Christmas.
"If I wasn't working, I'd get a packet in the morning and it would be gone by dinner," the 44-year-old says.
Hamish has struggled with substance abuse and addiction his whole life and spent six months in prison and two-and-a-half years in rehab as a result.
His fiancee, who doesn't want to be named, says his synthetic cannabis addiction was tearing the family apart and has had a big financial impact.
Hamish has lost four jobs since last year July because he couldn't get out of bed and there has been "a lot of lying, stealing and many excuses to buy the stuff", she says.
He wasn't violent but "he was kind of like a ticking bomb with a lot of anger and arguing ... it's really taken its toll".
Hamish is determined to kick the habit.
"I have every intention of staying off it but I have an addictive personality. The rehab and the prison are the things that put me off the most because I'm not going back there - it isn't nice."
- Manukau Courier
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