Synthetic cannabis stockpile fears

AUDREY MALONE
Last updated 05:00 12/07/2014

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Police think synthetic cannabis may have been stockpiled in South Canterbury.

Senior Sergeant Mark Offen, of Timaru, said there had been two incidents over the past two or three weeks in which staff were told the offender had been using synthetic cannabis, which became an illegal substance under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2013, on May 8.

"We were called to one incident of self-harm," he said. "We were told they were taking legal [now illegal] highs but could not find any.

"There was another incident where the person was high and we were told they were on them as well."

Offen said he believed that meant a person or people had stockpiled the cannabis when it was still legally for sale.

At the time Timaru police constable Marcus Dominey said they had kept tabs on anybody they believed to be stockpiling the substances.

In the last week of the legal trade of synthetic cannabis, Dominey said police had observed an average of eight or nine people entering one Timaru store to buy it in the first half hour of trading each morning.

South Canterbury District Health Board clinical director mental health Dr Cecilia Smith-Hamel said the DHB had seen fewer people with synthetic cannabis use in its Alcohol and Other Drug Service. "We have also had no recent admissions to our in-patient unit due to acute psychiatric consequences of synthetic cannabis use," she said.

Fairfax reported last month people were openly buying and selling synthetic cannabis on internet sites such as Facebook.

Offen agreed that Facebook could be used for criminal practices.

He was aware social network sites had been used in the past for moving on stolen property so it was not outside the realm of possibility people would use them for selling synthetic cannabis.

A Fairfax Sunday newspaper reported it had been relatively easy for it to source the psychoactive substances.

It made contact with a seller through a Rotorua page.

The dealer offered an ounce of synthetics for $150, or $50 for a bag.

She then offered "crack" (methamphetamine) as an alternative and was after a quick sale, the paper reported.

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- The Timaru Herald

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