A protest sign - ''legal but lethal, we say no, legal highs
all must go''- was the message delivered to local and central
government politicians at a Dunedin protest synthetic
cannabis on Saturday.
About 100 people gathered in the Octagon to protest legal
Concerned parent Wayne McFadyen, speaking at the protest,
said his child had struggled with synthetic cannabis
addiction and he wanted to challenge Prime Minister John Key
to a boxing match and to give the purse to the psychiatric
wards full of synthetic cannabis addicts.
''Get in a boxing ring with me.''
Another speaker at the Dunedin protest was Calvin Hooper, who
protested outside Cosmic Corner in George St last week after
his son was admitted to Wakari Hospital following synthetic
Ayla Espie (17), of Dunedin, speaking at the protest, said
she was addicted to synthetic cannabis.
''I don't want to be on it any more. I get so sick of it, and
when I don't have it, I don't sleep, I don't eat, I don't do
anything. My body doesn't function.''
The crowd applauded when she declared her 26 hours of
sobriety from synthetic cannabis and thanked her mother Maria
Espie for caring for her as she was ''shaking and sweating''
from withdrawal symptoms.
Dunedin South MP Clare Curran said the Government ''bungled''
the Psychoactive Substances Act.
''It's got holes in it you can drive a truck through,'' she
A man in the crowd pointed a walking stick at Ms Curran and
yelled ''It's your fault for voting for the legislation
...Where does your conscience lie? You put it on the
Ms Curran said she voted for the legislation because she
believed it would stop the sale of legal highs but the
legislation had put the blame on city councils and the
Government needed to amend the law.
Dunedin city councillor David Benson-Pope said Parliament had
''monumentally'' failed by voting in the legislation.
''The only politician who voted against it was John Banks and
he only voted against it because it was tested on animals.
I'm more worried about the testing on people and I think it
is untenable for it to continue in our community.''
Protests were held in 23 centres from Whangarei to
Invercargill. The protests were organised by Tokoroa mother
Julie King via a Facebook event page, ''Aotearoa bans the
sale and distribution of legal highs in our country''.
In Invercargill, about 170 people rallied against legal highs
before marching through the central city and protesting
outside the only licensed legal high shop in the CBD.
Emotions ran hot at the rally as more than a dozen speakers,
many with first-hand experience of the effects of legal highs
on themselves or family members, made it clear they wanted
the Government to ban synthetic high products completely.
Labour Party candidate Lesley Soper, who last year
participated in regular pickets of the city's herbal high
outlets, urged those present to write to their MPs and local
councillors making it clear they wanted all products banned.
Later in the afternoon, a small group protested outside the
Impuls'd legal high shop in South Invercargill, which had a
molotov cocktail thrown through its front window about 1am on
Although the shop had a closed sign in its front window,
owner Warren Skill had a counter, till and stands at the back
door so sales could continue.
This angered one protester, who said her 19-year-old son
experienced psychotic and violent episodes while on legal
highs and was stealing to pay for his next fix.
The arson had not even slowed Mr Skill down, the woman, who
asked not to be named, to protect her son, said.