A shop selling psychoactive substances will be picketed today in a community push to stop the substances being sold there.
Tupoho chair Ken Mair and Wanganui District Councillor Philippa Baker-Hogan are leading the community campaign to ban legal highs in the region. They are protesting outside Stardust Creations on Victoria Ave at 11am.
Ms Baker-Hogan and Mr Mair met last week with three retailers who sold the legal highs, to give them the opportunity to understand the community's issues and voice their own concerns, prior to any further community pressure.
Ms Baker-Hogan said the Easy Key Alma Rd Dairy had been selling psychoactive substances from a side room. She understood it was no longer trading in the synthetic highs.
"The owner of Stardust told us she would stop trading from last Friday but has continued, so we are calling for a community boycott."
Mr Mair said the retailers told them financial gain was their reason for selling the substance, "over and above the mental health of the community, including a large group of youth".
"Between them they have thousands of dollars of stock on hand at any one time to sell to some of the most vulnerable in our community" he said.
"They try to hide behind a law while communities like ours are suffering on a daily basis from weak legislation."
Whanganui District Health Board clinical director mental health and addiction services Frank Rawlinson said the banning of these substances had to come from government.
Dr Rawlinson said psychoactive substances were a "societal issue", and their use was "worrying".
Another consequence of the uptake of synthetic cannabis was those who were long-time users of cannabis who did not want to get into trouble, switched to the synthetic product because it was legal.
The chemical compositions of psychoactive substances were constantly changing, he said, and under the new act, any chemical manufacturing must be proven to be safe.
However, Dr Rawlinson says he sees people on an ongoing basis in a clinical setting who were suffering the effects of using the substances.
His experience was echoed by other clinicians.