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A spike in calls to the Dunedin-based National Poisons Centre led to the products being withdrawn, leaving 42 legal-high products sold under interim licences.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


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