K2 ban 'great news' - lawyer

By Mike Dinsdale

A Whangarei criminal lawyer is delighted the Government "bowed to public pressure" and banned a substance found in the synthetic cannabis product K2, just weeks after he called for the legal highs to be outlawed.

Dave Sayes, who has been working in Northland's courts for more than 20 years, wrote to Health Minister Tony Ryall about a month ago urging him to ban K2, and other synthetic cannabis products, saying they are just as dangerous as methamphetamine.

Mr Sayes said he was forced to act after becoming increasingly concerned about the effects of synthetic cannabis products such as K2 due to the "psychosis, paranoia, seizures and gratuitous violence in seemingly non-violent people" they cause.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne announced this week a Temporary Class Drug Notice banning more substances found in tested samples of K2 synthetic cannabis.

The ban on two substances, which will come into effect on Thursday will take K2 off shop shelves.

Mr Dunne said that the synthetic cannabis industry and the outlets that sell it have "no integrity whatsoever" and the Psychoactive Substances Bill, expected to pass by August 1, will restrict the importation, manufacture, and supply of psychoactive substances and only allow the sale of those psychoactive substances that can meet safety and manufacturing requirements.

Mr Sayes said he it was "great news" K2 would now be taken off shelves, but felt if politicians hadn't "dropped the ball" on the issue, it would have been declared illegal months ago.

"Since the article [in the Northern Advocate on April 24 where Mr Sayes called for the immediate ban] I've been inundated with people ringing me up or stopping me on the street saying 'good on you' for taking this up. I've had a range of people from a hospital charge nurse to a mother whose son had committed suicide [because of synthetic cannabis effects] contacting me saying this is a huge problem," Mr Sayes said.

"But it's hasn't been the politicians leading the charge [to get it banned] it's been people and communities right across New Zealand saying it's got to go. They've been calling for the politicians to do something and it seems public pressure has won the day. I have to ask though, where were are our local and national MPs on the issue?"

Mr Sayes said he'd had a number of people and clients approach him over the last three months about K2 and other synthetics and the erratic behaviour they are causing to users.

- Northern Advocate

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