Editorial: Synthetic cannabis back in spotlight

By Dylan Thorne


Synthetic cannabis is back in the headlines.

Last week we reported on a new product, K2, which can be bought at dairies and convenience stores in the Western Bay.

The dangers associated with synthetic cannabis have been known for some time but the side effects of this particular brand has caused alarm in the health sector.

Some young people in the Western Bay have experienced psychotic episodes after using it.

In one case, a boy who was smoking K2 ended up in hospital overnight after he was found in a ditch trying to eat dirt.

Further south, ambulance officers called for urgent police back-up in Dunedin on Saturday when they were confronted by two incoherent aggressive men high on the synthetic cannabis product K2.

A police officer said the men were "very unwell" and went as far as saying people were putting their lives at risk by smoking it.

The concerns raised about K2 come after Associate Health Minister, Peter Dunne, announced earlier this year that a new regime for party pills and fake cannabis would likely be introduced in July.

The new regulations will require makers to prove their products are safe before they can be put on the market. He hopes this new testing regime - which could cost the manufacturer up to $2 million - will deliver a "knockout blow" to the industry. Further, there will be advertising and sales restrictions, probably similar to those on alcohol and tobacco.

The Government's stop-gap policy - a temporary 12-month ban on substances for which the health risks were unknown, was also introduced and has taken about 50 synthetic cannabis products off the market.

However, it seems manufacturers are managing to get around this by tweaking products to get them back on the shelves. Their motivation is obvious, in my view, they want to make money out of these products while they still can.

I don't understand why these herbal highs are not banned entirely given that natural cannabis is illegal but until that happens those in the community concerned about these products can follow the advice of youth alcohol and drug clinician David Gilmour who suggests boycotting stores that sell them.


- Bay of Plenty Times

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