The sound of tooting cars buoyed protesters rallying against synthetic cannabis in Tauranga on Saturday.

The rally was part of a nationwide campaign, which saw people throughout New Zealand stand outside stores selling legal highs and share their stories of the drug as they urged the country's leaders to ban it completely.

The Tauranga rally was held outside Discount Tobacco on Cameron Rd from 1pm.

One man, who wanted to be known only by his first name Andrew, shared his story with the Bay of Plenty Times.


He had been using synthetic cannabis for the past three years and only two weeks ago finally reached out to his family for help.

His mother, who wanted to remain nameless, said in the past two weeks she had noticed a huge change in his personality.

"I've got my boy back," she said with tears welling in her eyes, "He had just gone into a shell. He smiles again and he talks again. He never used to talk."

Having experienced the power of synthetic cannabis first-hand, Andrew said he wanted the drug banned from New Zealand.

"It's just hurting people," he said. "It was affecting my work life, social life and money."

The organiser for the Tauranga protest, Renee Raynes, was pleased with the turnout and said she had seen the effects of the drug on a number of people. There was a lot of emotional connections to the drug for people involved.

"Everyone is here for a reason," she said. "It's affecting so many people. This is about taking a united stance against a poison that is destroying families. It is time the Government banned this poison completely."