Having a shop selling synthetic cannabinoids set up next
door to a facility supporting people with mental illness has
prompted a South Dunedin woman to lobby the Dunedin City
Council over putting the shops in more sensible places.
SF Otago manager Jackie McKenzie told about 100 people
gathered at the King's and Queen's Performing Arts Centre in
South Dunedin last night her support service had been
significantly affected by the shop.
She said she had witnessed adults selling synthetic
cannabinoids to minors, there had been lots of rubbish and
graffiti/tagging in the area and the front window of her
premises had been smashed by people in balaclavas with
She said it was having an effect on her clients, some of whom
were trying to recover from the effects of synthetic
Last night's meeting was aimed at highlighting the negative
effects of synthetic cannabinoids in the community, and she
called on other organisations in the city to also lobby the
Dunedin City Council about making sure shops retailing these
products were not allowed to set up near schools or ''other
Sergeant Greg Dunne, of Dunedin Police, Joanne Lee, of Public
Health South, and former legal high consumer Dennis
Rutherford spoke at the meeting to illustrate the damage
synthetic cannabinoids were doing.
Sgt Dunne said 5% to 10% of the crime he attended in Dunedin
involved synthetic cannabinoids in some way.
He described the life of an 18-year-old, who typified the
trouble people got into when dabbling in legal highs.
''He wasn't a bad chap. All in all, he was not someone you
would regard as a criminal.
''But when he started using synthetic cannabinoids, they
became his sole focus for the day. He quickly went through
his savings buying the stuff, then he sold his assets. He
then became withdrawn and isolated from his friends.
''He lost perspective of what he was doing to himself and
others around him - he began to burgle houses to support his
It ended with him being killed after consuming a large
quantity of the legal high and driving head on into a truck,
Sgt Dunne said.
''It affected his family and local community. It only took 18