Father's plea after legal high scare

A worried father has spoken about the dangers of legal highs after his son was put on life-support after having smoked a synthetic high product.

On Thursday last week, the 24-year-old Dunedin man smoked the legal high, Karma, and was later taken by ambulance to Dunedin Hospital in a serious condition.

His father, who did not want to be named, said his son did not know who or where he was, and had to be restrained by security guards.

''He was off the planet ... completely gone.''

His condition deteriorated to such an extent he was kept in ICU for three days on life-support.

With a temperature near 40degC, his ''whole body began shutting down at one stage''.

''It has affected him so badly and we realise we could have lost him,'' he said.

His son was later transferred to a general ward before returning to his parents' home ''in a very sad state''.

The father was not surprised to read in the Otago Daily Times this week that Karma was one of five products pulled from New Zealand shelves after users reported adverse health effects.

The five brands had been previously assessed by the Ministry of Health, and in August were judged low risk enough to be sold to the public.

The other legal highs - AK47, Anarchy, Northern Lights Primo and Voodoo - appeared to contain the same active ingredient.

Karma, Anarchy and Voodoo were sold via a Christchurch-based company, Eversons International Ltd, which could not be contacted yesterday.

A spike in calls to the Dunedin-based National Poisons Centre led to the products being withdrawn, leaving 42 legal-high products sold under interim licences.

While welcoming the removal of the product, the man's father questioned why products had been sold as legal highs when they were later found to be harmful.

''Someone has to take accountability.''

He and his wife had taken time off from their full-time jobs to look after their previously healthy son.

He questioned whether there was any benefit in keeping the remaining legal highs on the shelves.

''It has been horrible, horrible for all of us.''

Consultation on more permanent legal-high regulations is expected to begin next month.

- hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

 

Legal highs

These figures are all available on the MOH website. There are currently 201 active retailer licenses to sell these products in New Zealand. Let's assume that is one license per store. In actuality these retailers may have multiple stores, but let's assume for the purposes of this discussion that there are only 201 individual stores selling these products.

Some stores reportedly sell in excess of 100 packets a day, but even assuming that each store sells only 40 packets a day, that is 8'040 packets sold per day, 56,280 per week,  243,880 per month. Logic would tell me there should be a lot more people turing up to A&E with adverse effects than currently appears to be the case.

Also, considering these figures I think it is safe to say the horse has already bolted.  

Irresponsible

It is an irresponsible govenment that allows such a product through our borders so it ends up on a shelf to be sold to the public knowing full well the ramifications to indivduals and families.
That's a government that watches collateral damage as they take thier cut, but they're only kidding themselves. Look at the stretched A&E services and mental health services that have to deal with the aftermath of these products.
I hope the victims take a group action against this government's lack of care for its citizens.

legal highs

My thoughts are with the family I know it a nightmare for you as I am going through all this myself with my daughter.. she's nasty abusive, screaming, she's off this planet and she just keeps abusing  at me everyday I go through it. Police have a full time job with all this and it's hard work. I live in fear every day to get told my daughter is dead somewhere. Something needs to be done about it now it. They all need to be removed. Police can't do jack to get her the help she needs so where are we meant to go to get help for these young people.

Legal Highs

One must question why, if these products are so  toxic, are other users not being drastically affected? It has been reported that these products are being used by thousands of people across New Zealand every day, if they are toxic then one would expect hundreds of people a day to be admitted to hospitals across the country in a serious state, but this is not the case.

It would be interesting to know the eventual outcome of the toxicology reports in some of these instances, to ascertain if there were other elements at play.

I remember a young man on the West Coast was hospitalized after a serious incident involving 'legal highs' a few years ago. Toxicology later revealed numerous other drugs in his system including ecstacy.  

Why not simply legalise marijuana?

So-called "legal highs" are clearly loosely regulated and a true menace to public health. It would make far more sense to introduce a properly regulated and taxed legal marijuana market, like that currently being rolled out in Colorado, USA. This would get rid of lots of criminal activity and raise revenue. 

 

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