Top Wairarapa cop calls time on K2

By Trevor Quinn


A prominent Wairarapa police inspector has called on the public and health boards to take action against the prevalence of K2, while a mental health professional has said the use of K2 is leading to prolonged psychosis.

Speaking to the Wairarapa Times-Age, Inspector Brent Register said the time had come for people who had concerns about K2 to take a stand.

Mr Register said despite the obvious dangers police only had the power to go after the banned substances.

"Our hands are tied with the legislation ... " he said. "I have heard psychotic episodes have been quite prevalent and obviously the DHB are looking at it."

The police inspector said a strong community response allied with an emphasis on health and education could make a positive difference.

"Any drug use is a concern for police and even though this is legal at the moment it doesn't take away the risks that people face when they take it," Mr Register said. "We're looking for any information from the public such as underage sales or products being sold that contain banned substances."

Reformulated versions of K2 have posed significant problems for police since the May 9 ban. It is now illegal to import, manufacture, sell or supply the banned substances. But since the ban, new slightly altered formulas have been developed and the products are still on sale.

Police have witnessed repackaged and rebranded products being sold in dairies and outlets across the country. There is no indication the new ingredients being used are any safer than the two banned substances found in K2, synthetic cannabis BB-22 and 5F-AKB48.

The Psychoactive Substances Bill, which puts the onus on manufacturers to prove their products are safe, is expected to become law in August.

However, there is a worry that serious damage could be done in the interim.

Andrew Curtis-Cody, the acting service manager of Wairarapa DHB mental health service, said they had treated two patients who had acute psychotic symptoms which were, in his opinion, directly linked to K2.


"I think what we are seeing is people who have previously had a psychiatric issue or have been vulnerable that K2 is bringing on a very acute psychosis which is very difficult to treat," he said.


"I think it is a serious issue and it's going to to require a sustained and continuous effort from the local community and government agencies to address it. The Government need to bring in legislation to stop it being sold altogether."

Mr Curtis-Cody said K2 seemed to be significantly more potent than some illegal drugs and the difficulties in treating patients had illustrated that conclusion.


"Often if you see an individual displaying psychosis symptoms very quickly it can be resolved after two or three weeks [when their drugs or alcohol are out of their system].

"But we're seeing people who have taken K2 with psychosis which is prolonged and can last for one or two months. It's very slow to respond to any treatment we've provided."

Mr Curtis-Cody said the longer a person is in a state of psychosis the higher the risks.

"What we do know is if somebody becomes psychotic for longer and it goes untreated the harder it is to get back to a normal level of functioning and that is a concern."


? On May 13 Masterton man Reon Douglas Smith was convicted of two charges including possession of an offensive weapon and wilful damage relating to an incident on May 7.

The 21-year-old terrified his mother and threatened police with a Japanese samurai-style sword after he took K2 synthetic cannabis which he said "twisted my mind".

Smith, armed with a two-handed sword with a one-metre blade, was involved in a three-hour standoff with police. He will be sentenced on June 24.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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