Tauranga has a large number of synthetic cannabis users - but they aren't seeking help to combat their addiction, a Tauranga drug addiction centre manager says.

Hanmer Clinic Tauranga director David Benton said there were a large number of people in the district who were now turning to synthetic cannabis as an alternative to straight cannabis.

But not many were seeking treatment.

"There is a multitude of factors which prompt people using drugs and alcohol to come forward to seek help but one of the key reasons is the person is hurting and in pain.

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"I can only suggest this drop off is because some people are not hurting enough yet or don't want to admit to themselves and their family they have a problem."

Benton said synthetic cannabis was still relatively new on the local drug scene and many people were opting to use it as an alternative to cannabis and other illicit drugs.

Hanmer Clinic Tauranga director David Benton said despite the known harm there had been a drop-off in the numbers of synthetic cannabis users seeking help. Photo /File
Hanmer Clinic Tauranga director David Benton said despite the known harm there had been a drop-off in the numbers of synthetic cannabis users seeking help. Photo /File

Stopping using synthetic cannabis was especially difficult for people because some of the substances used in the product caused ''quite acute mental distress" and even psychosis.

"You can get these effects from any drug but synthetic cannabis is quite a hard drug to get off once you start using it and the earlier people seek help the better," Benton said.

Tauranga police Inspector Zane Smith said any form of drug use had a detrimental impact on the person consuming the drug, their family and the wider community.

"It can drive many aspects of our reported and unreported crime, for example, family harm, dishonesty crime and serious assaults.

"We urge those using synthetic drugs to stop immediately and contact their GP or the Alcohol Drug Helpline for assistance, " he said.

Smith urged people to report anyone suspected of making or supplying synthetic drugs, by calling their local police station or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

A Psychoactive Substances Amendment Bill is currently before Parliament to increase the maximum jail time for the supply of synthetic drugs from two years to eight.

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The bill's third reading is expected on February 20 and was in response to coronial statistics showing there were more than 50 deaths from synthetic drugs last year.

Ministry of Health figures showed that 84 people in 2017/2018 were also hospitalised suffering poisoning from psychoactive substances, mostly related to synthetic cannabis.

The Bay of Plenty District Health Board was unable to comment before deadline.