Synthetic cannabis just 'another addiction'

BENN BATHGATE
Last updated 16:09 05/04/2014
Synthetic cannabis protest
Fairfax NZ
PROTEST: Rotorua community members ready to march against synthetic cannabis.

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Hundreds of protesters demanding the sale of synthetic cannabis be stubbed out were joined on the streets of Rotorua by local MP Todd McClay on Saturday.

The march was organised by youth worker Maraea Pomana, who said she was prompted to act after seeing children as young as 11 affected by the legal highs.

"We don't want a law change or a promise of stricter controls, we want it banned," she said.

"We're tired of seeing families in strife and trouble. Alcohol, pokies, synthetics is the last straw. We do not want another addiction for our whanau."

The march walked past two synthetic cannabis retail outlets - both of which has closed for the day.

One of the retailers, Skingraft, had a sign on the door stating "we believe that the following are more harmful to our community than synthetics, statistically - alcohol, tobacco, gambling and sugar."

That sentiment cut little ice with Rotorua MP Todd McClay.

"I'm angry because these products are still being sold and we can't ban them," he told the crowd.

"The people that have the licenses are the ones causing harm. Listen to the voice of our community."

McClay said that while Government legislation had vastly reduced the number of outlets selling synthetic cannabis, and the amount of products on sale, he wanted to see an outright ban.

"These four shops will be closed in Rotorua," he said.

"I want to rid our streets of this poisoning muck."

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