Synthetic cannabis bust worth thousands

A Stratford man has been busted in possession of several thousand dollars worth of synthetic cannabis.

The arrest is believed to be the first of its kind in Taranaki since the psychoactive products were made illegal two weeks ago.

Earlier this month, legislation was passed under urgency following a decision by the Government to ban the drug until it could be proven to be low risk. The law change came into effect on May 8.

Detective Sergeant Mike Aro said a "large quantity" of synthetic cannabis was seized from a Stratford address by police during a search on Tuesday afternoon.

Aro said a 22-year-old Stratford man was arrested and charged with possessing a non-approved psychoactive product for supply, which carries a maximum penalty of two years' imprisonment. The man is due to appear in the Hawera District Court on Tuesday.

Aro said they had received a tipoff from a member of the public about the one-man operation and no other arrests were likely.

Aro said the bust was a significant step towards the police's goal to keep the illicit substance out of circulation following the recent law change.

"It's horrible stuff and it's good to be able to get some of it off the street," he said.

Aro said it was unknown at this stage where the product had originated from or how much it was actually being sold for on the black market.

Aro said, like any criminal activity, police wanted to do all they could to stamp out any attempts made by people to financially benefit from the sale of illegal products.

"We are taking it seriously and we will take action against anyone selling it," he said.

Aro said police wanted to hear from anyone with information about synthetic cannabis products or any other drug supply operations. People with information can call the Stratford CIB on 06 765 8860 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Taranaki Daily News