Legal-high opponents to rally

By John Cousins

1 comment

Opponents of synthetic cannabis are holding a public meeting in Tauranga this month to ram home the message that psychoactive substances must be banned.

Tauranga Safe City coordinator Mike Mills and Western Bay District councillor Margaret Murray-Benge have organised the meeting to give people a chance to hear the experts and put their feelings to the vote.

The April 30 meeting would feed into a growing pre-election tide of public opinion that the Government needed to shut down the trade in legal highs which was restricted to 10 outlets in Tauranga and the Western Bay.

Mr Mills said the main purpose of the meeting would be to present the evidence that the Government had got it wrong and needed to reconsider banning these products. "The notion that these substances can be effectively controlled and safely used is a nonsense."

He said it did not matter how narrowly the Government tried to restrict the sales, it was still "pouring poison into our community". Mr Mills said driving the substances underground by a ban was preferable to them being openly for sale because it warned people off.

The substances provided a legal pathway into drug abuse and opened the door to the illegal drug culture.

Police also faced a new level of unpredictability and risk when dealing with people high on psychoactive substances.

With alcohol and gambling, there was a tax to fund education, treatment and rehabilitation, but this was not considered for psychoactive substances. "They have not even put the most basic safeguards in place to help those whose lives are an absolute shambles with this stuff."

Mrs Murray-Benge successfully moved a remit at last weekend's AGM of the National Party's Bay of Plenty Electorate that the Government needed to take more responsibility and ban the substances.

She said the legality of the drugs gave them respectability. Mrs Murray-Benge wants the Government to resolve the issue before the party's Dominion conference in July. The two-hour meeting will be held in Tauranga Boys' College's Graham Young Auditorium from 7.30pm.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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