Reports of teenagers getting high on synthetic cannabis at school after buying it from dairies has led a Gisborne mother calling for the community to unite against those who sell legal highs.
Michelle Lexmond is concerned these substances - sold under names like K2, Tai High and Illusion - are much too easy for under-age children to acquire, despite their R18 tag.
She is calling for people to boycott shops that choose to sell it.
Side-effects of these products are believed to range from psychotic episodes to seizures and, in some cases, kidney damage.
The packaging almost never lists the ingredients, which makes it harder to define if it is safe. People really have no idea what they are smoking, she says.
K2 is the latest in a long list of synthetic cannabinoids to hit the country in recent years and is reported to be the strongest and most intense.
Its predecessor Kronic was stamped out in mid-2011 after Government temporary bans on active ingredients.
Temporary bans also attempted to stop active ingredients in K2 last year but new formulas were released as soon as the previous formula was removed.
A Psychoactive Substances Bill, which aims to ban synthetic cannabis and party pills, went through a first reading in Parliament on April 9 and has been referred to the health select committee.
Ms Lexmond is aware of five shops that sell at least one type of synthetic cannabis product.
Some of the shop workers were open about what they were selling, with signs in the window advertising the availability, while others were more discreet but had it available on request from under the counter, she said.
She was shocked to hear stories of teenage students smoking K2 on school grounds and later becoming disruptive in class.
"There are so many other drugs out there and to have something like this in our society that is legal, making it more easily available, is just wrong.
"I would hate my children to be hooked on this and not be able to do anything about it."
Ms Lexmond urges people to "vote with their wallet" and ask their local dairy owners if they sell K2 and if the response is yes, to tell them they will buy their bread and milk elsewhere.
"I know businesses are struggling in the current economic climate but there is an easier way to make money than selling that stuff. We just don't want it in our community.
"It's our future generations we are stuffing up."
There was a misconception that it must be safe because it was legal but almost every week there were news reports of people being hospitalised because of synthetic cannabis use, she said.
A similar community-driven initiative has seen community, health professionals and police in Wairoa try to drive synthetic cannabis out of the district.
The Wairoa effort is being driven by the town's community constable.
- The Gisborne Herald