Principal takes stand against synthetic drugs

By Christine McKay

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A Dannevirke school principal has seen first-hand the fallout which occurs when young people use drugs, even synthetic cannabis.

"Synthetic cannabis is much more volatile on the young developing brain and it's way worse when young people use these drugs. It's a real worry," Dawid de Villiers, the principal of Dannevirke High School,said.

"The reality is that in our town we need to stand up against the three outlets which are reportedly selling synthetic cannabis and I believe it's worthwhile going through the exercise of standing with placards outside those offending businesses so everyone knows what they're doing."

Dr de Villiers said it's vital the community steps up.

"In my 27 years in the job I've seen first-hand what drugs do to the developing brain and the effects of synthetic cannabis aren't any different," he said.

"Teenagers' frontal lobes aren't fully developed and they can get into all kinds of trouble.

For me, it's not about whether or not these drugs are legal or not, it's a health issue. I've been talking with our pupils about the choices they should make and how they need to engage their brain before they do things.

"I've heard of some disturbing incidents, like the Australian boy high on synthetic cannabis who thought he could fly like a bird."

Dr de Villiers said he has also put his support behind Palmerston North's Freyberg principal Peter Brooks and the joint initiative of schools throughout Palmerston North, Manawatu, Rangitikei and Horowhenua regions, in a bid to stamp out legal cannabis in the community.

The schools are urging parents and pupils to boycott outlets selling legal highs.

Nathan Davis, the senior sergeant for the Tararua police district, is also encouraging people to make a moral choice.

"I decide where I buy my milk and bread and I urge others to do the same thing. People can vote with their feet and spend their money elsewhere," he said.

Last week the Dannevirke Community Board called for a boycott of any Dannevirke business selling synthetic cannabis, but fell short of naming and shaming the three outlets they believed were involved.

The Psychoactive Substances Bill, expected to come into law in August, will automatically ban dairies, service stations and grocery stores from selling synthetic cannabis and other legal highs.

Yesterday the New Zealand Lotteries Commission urged their retailers to remove all synthetic cannabis and party pills from sale.

The commission said it wrote to 600 independently owned retailers with Lotto outlets advising them not to sell synthetic cannabis and similar products from July 1 this year.

Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain said he welcomed the initiative.

 

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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