News, Events and Culture

Protecting Palmy kids from the dangers of synthetic drugs

Friday June 7 2013

A community campaign against the sale of synthetic drugs in Palmerston North is about to begin.

Palmerston North City Council, MidCentral District Health Board, the Police and multiple non government organisations have joined forces with outraged parents to turn the tide on the sale of synthetic drugs.

Palmerston North Mayor, Jono Naylor, says it's a positive campaign aimed at highlighting those retailers who support their community by refusing to sell synthetic cannabis.

"I'll be visiting synthetic cannabis retailers in the city and appeal to their sense of community and ask them to stop. It takes a community to raise a child and I hope retailers will understand their important role in our community."

"We hope that by doing this the public will vote with their feet - choosing to shop with retailers who refuse to sell synthetic drugs to our kids," says Senior Sergeant Brett Calkin.

"And, we'll be keeping an eye out to ensure retailers stay true to their word."

The campaign will be supported by increased compliance checking. MidCentral District Health Board chief executive Murray Georgel says his team will carry out controlled purchase operations on those retailers who continue to sell synthetic cannabis.

"We're appealing to the public to keep an eye out and if they suspect a retailer is selling to people under 18 years of age then they should call the Public Health Unit on 350 9110. It is important our communities are kept safe."

Overall the campaign will be supported by an educative advertising campaign aimed at educating people about the dangers of synthetic cannabis which will be evident in local newspapers, movie theatres, social media and various organisations' community newsletters.

Synthetic cannabis products are legal to sell to anyone over the age of 18 however proposed new laws coming in to force in July will force drug makers to prove their products are low risk before going on sale.

The new laws will also mean dairies, service stations and grocery stores will be automatically ban from selling synthetic cannabis and other legal highs. Other shopkeepers will need a licence to sell 'designer drugs' under the new law - the Psychoactive Substances Bill.

Mayor Naylor says we felt it pertinent to start this campaign now and not wait another month.

"We're yet to see how effective the new laws will be and we're still not happy that these drugs will remain on some shop shelves. However, regardless of this we will continue to target retailers in the long term as these drugs are dangerous to the health of our children."