Tokoroa woman takes action against legal highs
She may have been a lone voice, but Tokoroa's Julie King is hoping to rid her town of synthetic cannabinoids, including K2.
Carrying placards, Ms King stood strong yesterday morning as she protested outside Tokoroa's Amber Dairy about her disdain for the products.
"People are living in fear and it is affecting so many people," Ms King said.
"Our youth are being affected by this. I know relationships that are breaking up because of this stuff, and I have seen people have seizures because of it."
But she's not the only one in the Waikato calling on the end to the sale of K2, with protesters in Turangi winning their crusade.
Sanjay's Selection owners Sanjay and Monika Malaviya agreed to stop selling the products.
Protest organisers Brendan Ngawati and Gloria Dewes were ecstatic because the products will be removed from the community less than a week after their protest began.
"It's out of our community, it's out of his shop for good," Ms Dewes said.
Yesterday, Ms King followed in their footsteps, picketing on the median strip outside Amber Dairy for two hours and she plans more protests this week.
"I am going to all the dairies that sell this. People seem to be really supportive when they drive past because they are beeping their horns."
Ms King was adamant that change needed to occur.
"People are getting addicted to this stuff, but it is not only them who are affected, it's everyone else around them," she said.
Ms King's protest comes after Leo Schep of the New Zealand National Poisons Centre served an ominous warning to Tokoroa recently about the effects of synthetic cannabinoids.
It also follows widespread media coverage of the dangers of using it and boycotts of shops nationwide that are selling it.
During a presentation at Te Wananga o Aotearoa, Dr Schep said the scary thing about the drugs was that little was known about them, or their effects.
"There will be an increase in mental health issues," he said, adding that problems associated with using the synthetic cannabinoids would be permanent.
Some of the effects being experienced include increases in heart rates and blood pressure, paranoia, seizures and hallucinations.
Accessibility had also resulted in the legal high problem becoming widespread, he said.
"You don't have to go the tinnie house to buy marijuana, you just go to your dairy to buy it."
Amber Dairy staff refused to comment on why it was selling K2 or if it would stop after the protest.
Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has announced a temporary class drug notice, banning two more substances found in tested samples of K2 synthetic cannabis, which will come into effect on May 9.
Under the Psychoactive Substances Bill, expected to become law in August, manufacturers and distributors will have to prove products are safe before selling them.