A Queenstown police officer says education is the key to
preventing further harm in the community by users of
Constable Craig Gibson spoke at a community meeting,
organised by the Queenstown Lakes District Council, to
discuss the illegal ''legal highs'' and seek community input
steps to take to restrict their sale in the district.
He said the products had been ''the excuse for every crime in
the past year''.
''Because it was legal, people would be smoking it in the
street, outside the pubs in their cars.
''We were really scrapping with them about an hour after they
were smoking it.
''They wake up in the cells [wondering] what am I doing here?
- [a couple of hours earlier] they were on a huge bender and
it took three cops just to get them into the car.
''We've had some horrendous events in Queenstown that you
won't read about in the media ... because they are very
''A lot of families have been blown apart by a user.''
Const Gibson said users often found themselves in debt and
stole from family members to pay for the products.
Families then had to make a choice between tough love or
''cutting the cord''.
''It's absolutely devastating.''
He said the key to stopping the cycle in Queenstown was to
educate children and young people about the products, the
side effects and the long-term consequences.
People used the products because they were legal and
''If a dairy sold silver paint as a high, we'd be down on
them. Butane - gas cookers; people die [and] it's a legal
''The only thing that's really going to stop it is education
... before it's too late.''
Const Gibson said education started with teaching children to
''You do have a choice. It isn't a rite of passage - [to] get
high or get smashed on alcohol.
''Everyone has choices ... there are consequences to your
choice [and] the consequences [of psychoactive substances]
Another public meeting will be held in Wanaka tomorrow before
a report is prepared for the council, the first step in
forming a plan to control the sale, distribution and use of
Under current law the council cannot ban the substances, but
can control where they are sold under a bylaw, a Local
Approved Product Policy or under the district plan.
• The Wanaka forum, in conjunction with the Wanaka Alcohol
Group, will be held tomorrow at 7pm at the Lake Wanaka