Police Minister Stuart Nash believes a multi-agency approach is what is needed to effectively combat synthetic cannabis.

The Napier MP said people cannot underestimate the scale of the problem.

"It is a problem that affects all our communities and there is not just one approach. This is as much a mental health and addiction issue as it is a policing issue.

Synthetic drugs seized during a police operation last year. Photo / File
Synthetic drugs seized during a police operation last year. Photo / File

"The people who are addicted to these substances need to be able to get the help they need and the police need the ability to go after the people who are manufacturing and supplying or dealing these substances in a way that actually makes a difference."

Advertisement

Read more: Police targeting suppliers and manufacturers of synthetic cannabis
Synthetic cannabis shunted from CBD to the suburbs

Last month, the health and justice ministries, police and Customs set up a working group to find possible solutions to deal with the crisis.

"The Government does recognise that the mental health and addiction services and the police service have been run down to a point where they are just fighting fires as opposed to dealing with situations in a proactive way that will really make a difference to our communities," Nash said.

Nash said synthetic cannabis is policed under the wrong piece of legislation, and that moving it from the Psychoactive Substances Act to the Misuse of Drugs Act was a possible solution.

Customs Minister Meka Whaitiri, who is now standing aside from her portfolios over a 'staffing matter'. Photo / File
Customs Minister Meka Whaitiri, who is now standing aside from her portfolios over a 'staffing matter'. Photo / File

"This is nasty, incredibly cheap and easy to make but the police just don't have the powers at this point to go after those who are producing and selling this in the way they do under the Misuse of Drugs Act."