Comment:

It's disappointing that we're still dealing with synthetic cannabis as an issue, despite all the press we've had around it, despite all the deaths (up to 45 people in the year to June, which is up from two deaths in the previous five years).

How is this still a thing?

The problem with it of course is that we don't know what's in it - anything from grass to fly spray it appears.

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Police Minister Stuart Nash - who made the claim about grass and fly spray - said a Pandora's box had been opened when synthetic cannibas was legalised.

Government agencies are now being asked to urgently find ways to reduce harm caused by this ugly drug.

I know what you're thinking. How have they not been working on solutions prior to now? Well, they have been apparently, it's just they haven't come up with any. Not any effective ones, anyway.

There's disagreement too over what works and what doesn't.

There's a National party bill which could include increasing the maximum jail sentence for selling or supplying synthetic drugs from two years to eight.

Police say that won't work. I would've thought tackling the dealers would be a good start. But the Drug Foundation's Ross Bell agrees that tougher penalties are not a solution. He said action on the ground was what was needed.

Winston Peters said what we didn't need was a "Remuera answer to an Otara problem".

For people outside of Auckland he refers to a predominantly white middle class suburb versus a poorer South Auckland one. But are synthetic drugs not a problem in affluent areas too? I'd hazard a guess they absolutely are.

One of the suggestions is more resource in the community, more education around harm reduction. But didn't we see just this week, with disturbing stats on pregnant women who choose to drink alcohol, that in lots of cases, no matter how much education is out there, people either ignore it, or choose to take the risk.

Even Stuart Nash agreed it's more than just running an advertising campaign on the news.

So how do you get through to the disenfranchised and the disengaged?

I don't envy their task in finding solutions here. Winston Peters gave a six-month timeframe in terms of hoping to be on top of it.

I hope that's not just wishful thinking.