Dylan Thorne

Dylan is the deputy editor of the Bay of Plenty Times.

Editorial: Highs go up in smoke

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It's pleasing to see police are cracking down on synthetic cannabis products amid growing evidence of health problems and crimes linked to legal highs.

Police in all districts have been ordered to check dairies and other outlets for products containing 35 banned substances, including two chemicals found in the popular K2 product, that were banned this week.

K2 and similar substances are becoming a factor in a number of crimes, including violent offending, police say.

In Auckland, a 14-year-old boy was caught last week after a new shop selling synthetic cannabis and party pills was burgled the day after it opened.

Two other boys, aged 9 and 10, were hospitalised last week after they were found vomiting and unresponsive in a park at night.

The National Poisons Centre said two people in the Bay of Plenty, two in Christchurch and one in Nelson had been hospitalised with acute kidney injuries.

Bay health professionals have reported young people experiencing psychotic episodes after using the drugs.

As this paper has stated before, given the harmful side effects associated with this legal high, something had to be done.

The makers of these herbal highs have proven to be adaptable when it comes to adjusting to bans on particular substances. They can change ingredients to skirt around legislation.

The good news is that they are unlikely to be able to skirt around a new regime, which will require makers to prove their products are safe before they can be put on the market.

A parliamentary committee opened hearings yesterday on a bill that would shift the onus of proof on to anyone selling psychoactive substances to prove that their products are safe.

If passed, the bill is expected to become law in August.

The Health Ministry has estimated that the array of testing of a product to fulfil the onus of safety could cost the manufacturer about $1 million to $2 million, and each clinical trial could take up to two years.

Hopefully this will limit the supply of these awful products by making the whole enterprise unprofitable for those who manufacture them.

The police crackdown may also make shops reconsider whether they should be selling synthetic cannabis.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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