Mayor wants power to ban legal highs

RACHEL ASKEW
Last updated 10:42 10/04/2014
Bryan  Cadogan
FAIRFAX NZ
Clutha District mayor Bryan Cadogan.

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Clutha mayor Bryan Cadogan is fed up with district's young people paying the price for the government's "frustrating" synthetic cannabis legislation and is urging anyone suffering from the "scourge" of legal highs to contact him personally.

The Clutha District Council made a submission to the Ministry Health about the Psychoactive Substances Act, which gives local authorities the power to set conditions such as where the drugs can be sold.

It urged the government to review the "manifestly inadequate" legislation, saying it denied local authorities the option of banning the sale of legal highs.

A council report said while no premises sold legal highs in Clutha yet, this did not stop them being marketed by other means.

Cadogan was proud of retailers for refusing to sell synthetic cannabis, but now there was the "ludicrous situation" where the government wanted council to assign areas where this "rubbish" could be sold, he said.

The drug dealers had moved on, he said.

"The reports I'm getting back is they are selling out of their cars, the government is dragging us through this pantomime, the drug dealers are laughing, and the people who are paying the price are our young ones and their families."

He wants an outright ban in Clutha.

"Central government hasn't given us the ability . . . to stop drug dealers supplying our young ones, as is the desire of the vast, vast majority of our district."

The next step was to gather information about the extent of the problem and who was supplying the drugs, he said.

"So please, if this scourge is affecting you or your family please contact me, strictly confidentially."

Anglican Family Care backed a full ban.

Rural supervisor Jane Hutton said the drugs caused financial and emotional stress.

"Of the small number of families we have worked with who have reported using synthetic cannabis or legal highs, we have only found negative impacts."

Clutha Health First chief executive Ray Anton would also like nothing better than to ban them for the "sake of our young people".

"We tend to have sporadic presentations by young people, or desperate parents wanting help for their hooked teenagers, to detox off these drugs."

While they were on the market, CHF would see more and more problems, he said.

He had contacted the National Poisons Centre numerous times about Kronic, K2 and Chocohaze.

"Whatever is in these products, they are very dangerous, leading easily to addiction."

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Clutha-Taieri Police area response manager, senior sergeant Alastair Dickie said officers often dealt with people suffering the after-effects of legal highs.

"They do cause considerable harm in our communities by behaving violently and/or unpredictably, committing varied offences."

In a statement last month Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said he was disappointed by the response.

"While I understand that there are some frustrations with the ongoing presence of these products in communities, the reality is they are here to stay and we need to ensure they are as regulated and low risk as possible."

 

- The Southland Times

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