Concern is growing concern about the effects of a new
synthetic cannabis product called K2, and Dunedin police say
the behavioural problems caused by the drug are worse than
those of marijuana.
Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne told the Otago Daily
Times he was concerned by reports of the "new synthetic
cannabis product K2" in the lower South Island, and the
Ministry of Health was working with police to test the
"We already have 28 substances under temporary class drug
notices, and that has taken more than 50 synthetic cannabis
products off the market, and as they come up we take steps to
test them, and if they are unsafe, we ban them," Mr Dunne
A spokesman for the minister said it was too early to say
when or if K2 would be banned.
This comes as Dunedin Senior Sergeants Bruce Ross and Steve
Aitken yesterday said K2 made people aggressive and
The behavioural effects of K2 were worse than those of
marijuana, they said.
"With K2, we see violent, irrational behaviour, mood swings
and aggression. Most people that come in [to the police
station] under the influence of cannabis are pretty mellow,"
Snr Sgt Aitken said.
Snr Sgt Ross also thought K2 had a worse effect on people
than Kronic, another synthetic cannabis product available in
New Zealand to people over the age of 18.
"K2 is becoming a real problem. We see people who have smoked
it acting in bizarre ways," he said.
On Monday, a 16-year-old Dunedin youth was dealt with by
police when, after smoking K2, he allegedly hit his mother
during an argument and ran away in his underwear, Snr Sgt
The teenager was referred to Youth Aid.
"That's just one example of the type of things we see as a
result of K2. It's becoming more and more of a problem," he
Those smoking K2 were mostly teenagers and people in their
Snr Sgt Ross said he was "no expert" on synthetic cannabis
and his opinions were based on what he saw as a police
National Poisons Centre toxicologist Dr Leo Schep agreed with
police and said, since July, there had been an increase in
the number of calls to the centre relating to synthetic
Before that, the Government's temporary measure of banning
new substances as they came up appeared to be working, but
some of the newest analogues the industry was producing,
including K2, appeared to have worse effects than previous
ones, Dr Schep said.
"We are seeing increasing trends in psychosis, paranoia and
seizures," he said.
He hoped that when the next lot of analogues were banned, the
problems would ease.
Mr Dunne said the new legislation to combat the problem would
be introduced in Parliament before the end of this year.
"That will fix issues like this ... because it will reverse
the onus of proof so the manufacturers of these products will
have to prove they are safe, through rigorous testing regimes
at their own cost, before anything can come on the market.
"We won't be playing catch-up anymore," he said.
An ODT survey of four Dunedin stores which sold legal
highs found all sold variations of the K2 product.