Anti-legal highs campaigner Calvin Hooper has thrown away
his protest signs now synthetic cannabis has been banned.
Photo by Jonathan Chilton-Towle.
The synthetic cannabis ban appears to have mostly stubbed
out sales of legal highs in Dunedin.
Since the sale of synthetic cannabis was banned on May 8,
Dunedin police say they have not laid any charges relating to
illegal sale and distribution of psychoactive substances.
Police prevention manager for Dunedin, Clutha and Waitaki Mel
Aitken said there had been no significant issues with illegal
synthetic cannabis sales to date.
''Police, Ministry of Health enforcement officers and the
Psychoactive Substances Regulatory Authority continue to
monitor the situation.
"Police are still interested to hear from anyone who is aware
of ongoing illegal sale and distribution of psychoactive
substances,'' she said.
Anti-legal highs campaigner Calvin Hooper was rapt the highs
were off the shelves.
He no longer saw youngsters hanging around stores and in the
Octagon ''right off their brains''.
One of his children had been addicted to synthetic cannabis
for two years.
They had quit three weeks before the ban and had been clean
since. There was a huge difference in their behaviour, he
''There was concern about them going on to marijuana but my
child hasn't,'' he said.
Mr Hooper was proud of the stand he had taken.
''I was s**t-scared doing it. I got some threats with people
saying 'it's our freedom of choice'.
"I said that's true but there are other vulnerable people
affected by it,'' he said.
The ban had been the best thing the Government had done but
it had no choice with so many people protesting, he said.
Community Alcohol and Drug Service medical director Dr Gavin
Cape said people had told him synthetic cannabinoids were
still available, which indicated the sale had ''in part been
He understood the sale was being conducted by dealers, rather
than any shops breaking the law.
However, Dr Cape believed many people would not bother buying
synthetic cannabis since it had been made illegal.
It was too early to say whether people were resorting to
harder drugs, he said.
Dr Cape was not aware of any increase in numbers of people
presenting with drug-related problems to Southern DHB
services since the ban.
He had never been in favour of the ban and believed the
original Psychoactive Substances Bill would have solved the
problem ''in a progressive and common-sense way''.
''It is election year and unfortunately politics sometimes
get in the way of sensible public health decisions,'' he