Booze ills worse than legal highs

Alcohol-related harm is more prevalent in South Canterbury than that caused by legal highs, according to Timaru police.

Sergeant Grant Lord said police were still dealing with issues surrounding legal highs, but it was by no means the main catalyst for crime and violence throughout the district.

"Alcohol is more prevalent," he said.

"We still have issues with synthetic cannabis ... but synthetic cannabis is just one of a number of drugs [being used]."

Psychoactive Substances Act restrictions came into effect in July last year, enforcing a minimum purchase age of 18 and banning all dairies from selling synthetic cannabis products.

Synthetic cannabis was back in the headlines on Saturday after Timaru police were called to an address where a 27-year-old man, affected by legal highs, had used his head to smash through a wall of his flat into an adjoining flat.

He made two large holes in the walls dividing the two units on the corner of Wai-iti Rd and Evans St. The man suffered bruising to his head. It took four constables to control him.

Lord said people had different reactions to legal highs, with some becoming paranoid and aggressive. Others appear to experience euphoria.

Senior Sergeant Randel Tikitiki said some people also had little reaction to pain while high.

"It affects people differently."

While the problem is "still on the radar" for Timaru police, alcohol is doing more harm in the community.

"In the ballpark figure, alcohol-related harm makes up 70 per cent of the work we deal with across the board," Lord said.

Tikitiki said half the problem was that alcohol was more socially acceptable.

"It's acceptable to have a wine with dinner or a couple of beers after mowing the lawns," he said.

The Timaru Herald