Huge dope bust praised
Last updated 12:00 12/04/2011
A Palmerston North city councillor and prominent youth worker has praised police for a crackdown on cannabis, saying it could save a "lost generation" in the region.
Palmerston North Street Van co-ordinator and city councillor Lew Findlay welcomed news police had carried out search warrants on seven Highbury properties, seizing more than $100,000 worth of cannabis.
Mr Findlay sees the effects of cannabis on the streets of Palmerston North every day, and believes it is more harmful than it once was.
"It's not the same drug as it was back in my day. The social cost of cannabis is a lost generation. We're losing our kids to it and I feel like I'm fighting a losing battle."
Last week Mr Findlay came across a large group of 15- to 17-year-olds who all admitted smoking cannabis.
"They all got it from a family member. What can you do? They have no long-term vision for themselves. They've all dropped out of school at fifth form [year 11] because of short-term memory loss and their inability to concentrate.
Pupils with 'legal drugs' give schools testing times
Last updated 05:00 12/04/2011
Schools are grappling with ways to deal with students caught with legal synthetic drugs.
New Plymouth Boys' High School principal Michael McMenamin said the school's board of trustees would make a decision on how to deal with the legal high at a meeting later this month.
"In my opinion, any boy who has the substance in school time may well put his place at the school in jeopardy," he said.
The Government has decided against an outright prohibition on a synthetic dope that is freely available at corner stores. Instead, it has an R18 restriction.
"Because the substance isn't banned the board will need to make a decision for the school that will be circulated to parents and staff," Mr McMenamin said. "I've made comments to the boys and staff. In the assembly I expressed having major concerns about the mind-altering drug and the effects it would have and the harm it could cause."
"I've organised for the police to bring their kit of drugs along to a staff meeting so the teachers know what they are looking for."
Singer Tiki Taane, who was arrested for singing the rap song F*** the Police, says he has performed the song many times live and hopes to keep his relationship with police "positive".
In a statement released this morning, Taane - who will appear in the Tauranga District Court on Friday - said he was arrested at an R18 concert in Tauranga at 3.25am on Sunday.
"I was handcuffed and taken to the cells where I spent the rest of the night," he said in his statement.
"I have been charged with disorderly behaviour, likely to cause violence, for reciting the lyrics to a song by an American rap group called NWA.
"This song is a protest song written by Ice Cube in 1988, and I have often played and sang along to it at my R18 concerts with no trouble at all."
Taane says the concerned promoter and his DJ were taken in but later released uncharged.
"I have had an excellent rapport with the NZ Police and I intend to keep that relationship positive," Taane says.
"I'm 34 years old and this is my first ever offence, and I feel it is unfortunate that one particular police officer became upset with the NWA lyrics I sang that night.
Lawmakers say their hands are tied in their attempts to ban powerful synthetic cannabis products.
Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said he would liked to have seen the substances prohibited but New Zealand's outdated drug laws prevented it.
"If it looks like cannabis, smells like cannabis, we ought to be able to treat it like cannabis," Mr Dunne told the Taranaki Daily News yesterday.
The Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs, after researching and testing the products, recommended they be classified R18.
Mr Dunne said the committee had two options – to classify the products as a restricted substance or as a controlled substance.
"They said they were dangerous but in their conclusion they were less harmful than cannabis – the real thing," Mr Dunne said.
"They weren't confident they had sufficient evidence to justify them being made a controlled substance."
Mr Dunne said he had no option but to accept the recommendation.
Workers avoiding mandatory drug testing are among the biggest buyers of legal designer dope.
And their bosses are scrambling to react to the threat posed by legally stoned workers, with the demand prompting one of the nation's biggest drug testers to offer a test that picks up the substances.
Workers in industries such as transport, construction, the armed forces and others with mandatory drug testing are heavily represented among buyers, says retailer Carl Bird, who sells the "legal highs" through his Victoria St store Rota but supports extra regulation around them.
Associate health minister Peter Dunne has announced plans for a law change allowing the Government to ban the sale of synthetic cannabis products to under-18s, control how they are marketed and where they can be sold.
But Mr Bird believes the proposed age restriction would have little effect on the volume he sells because his business has always voluntarily weeded out underage buyers.
Mr Bird said a large number of his customers are 30- to 40-year olds with families, some former pot smokers.
Retailers are welcoming a move to restrict the sale of "legal highs", which mimic the effects of cannabis, to people aged over 18.
Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said yesterday that he had accepted the recommendations of an expert advisory committee to limit the sales of products such as Spice, Kronic, Aroma and Dream, which can be bought legally at dairies and convenience stores, as well as online.
Known widely as "herbal smoking blends", they contain vegetable matter treated with synthetic cannabinomimetic substances. When smoked they give psychoactive effects similar to those from cannabis.
"I am putting traders in these products on notice that it is irresponsible to market, sell or offer to sell to anyone under the age of 18," Mr Dunne said.
Chris Fowlie, manager of the Hemp Store in Auckland, which sells a cannabinoid product called Space, said retailers would welcome the announcement.
"We support the product being R18. It is a product which is smoked, and all things that are smoked should be R18. It is totally legal under current law.
"We have called for cannabinoid products to be R18 restricted for 10 years now. That is how long it has taken Peter Dunne to listen.
"This is not a ban ... we can still sell our products, but just not to kids and that is great."
Regular smoker Blair Anderson also welcomed Mr Dunne's announcement. "An R18 is a perfectly logical thing to do. This represents a very progressive change. There are states in the USA that are banning this stuff."
Mr Anderson, of Christchurch, likened smoking a "legal high" cigarette to having a glass of wine. "It is the perfect social drug."
A Timaru retailer of "legal highs" warns people will go "underground" if the Government bans the sale of cannabis substitutes.
Dizzy Spells owner Megan DeVries said synthetic cannabinoid substances were a popular choice with customers.
Since introducing the products to their shelves about a year ago, they have had to restock twice a week – sometimes even three times.
Some of the legal highs on offer were Kronic, which had just sold out, Dust, Rasta Ganja, Dream, Lazy J and Magic Dragon.
"They fly out the door," Ms DeVries said.
Widely known as "herbal smoking blends", they contain vegetable matter treated with synthetic cannabinomimetic substances. When smoked they give psychoactive effects similar to those from cannabis.
Dizzy Spells already had a ban in place for people under 18, so Ms DeVries welcomed the move by Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne, who this week accepted the recommendations of an expert advisory committee to limit the sales of legal highs.
OPINION: A friend in need's a friend indeed, a friend with weed is better.
They may be words of a Placebo song, but it seems they ring true for many online readers. Just about everyone (a small exaggeration), from dole bludgers to six-figure salary earners, use the substance. Some multiple times daily, while others use it only in the weekends.
Obviously some use it to escape reality, while for others it's just to wind down.
If the copy-cat version is legal than why not make the real thing legal and let the government tax it like they do cigarettes and alcohol? It's a question many (so-called) respectable, tax paying, honest, hard working dope smokers want answered.
The usual reaction from officials is because it's bad for your health, kills brain cells, makes you lethargic, causes mental illness and is very bad for adolescents.
Each of these reasons are debatable. According to most dope smokers, weed has very little effect on your health and any minor effect is nothing in comparison to alcohol and other legal drugs. Comments online point out that anyone who has a drink of alcohol at night and condemns dope smokers is a hypocrite. After all, people use alcohol in much the same way. It's a proven killer and has numerous negative health effects.
Weed, pot, dope or whatever else you want to call it merely amplifies your senses and changes your perception, they say. It makes music sound incredible, makes you laugh, warps time, makes food taste amazing and changes your entire process of thinking. All positive effects most argue.
There are plenty of reasons to legalise cannabis, users say. The usual arguments are that it would stop hard working people from being criminals, it's a great pain reliever, the government would make more money and it would eliminate the illegal drug trade.
All four arguments are most probably true, but that doesn't necessarily mean the government should grant the wishes of the stoners. So I'll leave you with my favourite online comment and let you decide which side of the fence you want to sit on.
"Cannabis users such a farce, trying to blow smoke up our arse, roll it, smoke it, it's such fun, nevermind scores of brain dead young. New synthetic high for you, see the world in dopey hue, still we all are somewhat sinners, but dopeheads hardly ever winners."
So what side of the fence are you on?
- Taranaki Daily News
AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd will not have to worry about problems touring overseas after having his cannabis conviction discharged today.
Rudd, 56, pleaded guilty in Tauranga District Court in December to a charge of possession of marijuana. He was fined $250.
But Judge Alayne Wills agreed with Rudd's lawyer Craig Tuck that the consequences of a conviction were too great, the Bay of Plenty Times reported.
MP aghast at synthetic drug sales
National MP Jonathan Young wants New Plymouth dairies to stop selling synthetic cannabis.
"This is an alarming situation which puts so much at risk and I call upon these dairy owners selling these drug surrogates to act more responsibly towards the communities they serve by withdrawing these products from sale," Mr Young said.
The Taranaki Daily News revealed last week the legal dope was being sold in dairies around the city.
Mr Young said he never thought he would see the day when synthetic drugs "intended to create hallucinogenic experiences" would be sold in local dairies.