The family of West Auckland synthetics victim Calum Jones are among the first to call for a parliamentary inquiry into the deadly drugs and the lack of help for addicts and their families.

Jones, a father of one, died at his family home in Henderson on September 1.

The 22-year-old had been battling an addiction to synthetic drugs for years.

He had only been home from full-time rehab for one day when he died.

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Synthetics: Family of victim team up with MP on law-change push

Since Jones died his parents Lewis and Lorraine have been vocal about the need for harsher penalties for people supplying synthetics, and more help for addicts and their families.

They tried everything to help Jones, even seeking a court order to get him into detox in a bid to save his life.

Last week the Herald revealed Jones' family had met with Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown who is behind a private member's bill proposing to increase the penalties for those who supply illegal psychoactive drugs to the community from two years to eight years.

Brown's Psychoactive Substances (Increasing Penalty for Supply and Distribution) Amendment Bill was drawn from the ballot earlier this month and is expected to have its first reading in Parliament by mid-March.

Today, with the support of Jones' family, Brown is launching a petition to support his bill.

MP Simeon Brown has launched a petition against synthetics. Victim Calum Jones' father Lewis was the first in NZ to sign his name in support. Photo / Anna Leask
MP Simeon Brown has launched a petition against synthetics. Victim Calum Jones' father Lewis was the first in NZ to sign his name in support. Photo / Anna Leask

It also calls on parliament to launch a wide-ranging inquiry into synthetics in New Zealand and what help is available - and needs to be put in place - to help those battling addiction and their families struggling in their wake.

The petition requests: "that the House pass the Psychoactive Substances (Increasing Penalty for Supply and Distribution) Amendment Bill to increase the penalty for those found guilty of dealing in synthetic psychoactive substances, and further requesting a select committee inquiry into addiction to psychoactive substances".

"A Select Committee inquiry would be a broad mechanism that would allow all of the things that need to be looked at around the people that are suffering and their families and what assistance they are provided," Brown said.

"It's us looking at this from a holistic point of view and hopefully this will allow us to ask these questions."

Fronted by Jones' father and sister Heather, 21, the petition will be available for signing across New Zealand.

"It's not just about locking the people up who are selling this stuff, it's about helping those who are addicted - we actually need to help those who are suffering," Brown said.

Jones is one of at least 25 people believed to have died after using synthetics.

All of the deaths are being investigated for the coroner.

He said the petition was more about raising awareness and "starting an important conversation" than getting numbers.

"What I'm hoping is this will create a conversation around this issue and highlight that the penalties are too low and gather community support for that," he said.

"People are affected by this in so many ways and they want to be heard.

"In my view, the law needs to come down like a tonne of bricks on the people supplying synthetics - but on the other hand, there are people who are suffering and we need to
help and support them and their families."

Heather Jones said the petition was "great".

She knew nothing could ever bring her older brother back, but she did not want his death to be in vain.

"I'm doing this for Calum, I'm just hoping people realise the risk of selling this stuff and hopefully it minimises the selling and synthetics won't be so easy to access."

Jess Waldon, the girlfriend of Calum Jones who died last year after taking synthetic drugs, speaks to the Herald. / Video by Jason Oxenham

Jones' mother said watching her son's addiction was terrifying and she vowed to do whatever she could to prevent any other families from losing a loved one to synthetics.
"We just want change - change for the better," she said.

"At the moment these dealers are not being held accountable and there is not enough help for our addicts.

"We just hope there will be more help… synthetics are scary, very, very scary."

The man police believe gave Jones the fatal dose of synthetics has pleaded guilty to a charge of supplying.

Jonathan Gordon, 23, will be sentenced in the Waitakere District Court next month.

What are synthetic drugs?

• Smokable products containing varieties of plant matter that have been infused with synthetic cannabinomimetic or other often-toxic substances.

• They were intended to be a legal alternative to cannabis, but are now banned.

• Synthetic drugs have been linked to an increased risk of seizures.

• Effects include, but are not limited to: decreased motor co-ordination, fast or irregular heartbeat, disassociation, dizziness, paranoia, psychosis.

• Use of synthetic drugs in New Zealand has also been linked to renal failure and heart failure.

Source: alcoholdrughelp.org.nz

Where to get help

• If you, or someone you know, is using synthetic drugs, police urge you to stop immediately and seek help if needed by contacting your local GP or by ringing the Alcohol and Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797 or text 8681 seven days a week to speak to a trained counsellor.

• If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 111.