Police welcome a ban on two substances found in K2 synthetic cannabis and will be vigilant in enforcing the law to reduce the product's harmful effects on the community, says Deputy Commissioner Mike Bush.
The ban, initiated by Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne under the Temporary Class Drug Notice (TCDN) legislation, commences tomorrow (9 May), and bans substances BB-22 and 5F-AKB48. Both have been found in K2 products.
Mr Bush says Police welcome the strong stance taken by Mr Dunne, which will strengthen the ability of Police and other agencies concerned about the harm caused by synthetic cannabinoids.
"There is significant community concern over the impact the current products on the market are having throughout the country, particularly on vulnerable young people, and this ban is a positive step,” Mr Bush says.
"There is no question that Police and Health agencies are increasingly experiencing first hand the negative consequences of these products.
“Aside from the potentially serious health effects such as increased heart-rate and seizures, Police are finding that K2 and similar substances are becoming an increasingly concerning factor in a number of crimes, including violent offending. This is being driven by people either committing crime to get their hands on these drugs, or committing crimes while on them.”
Mr Bush says seven recent aggravated robberies in the Southern Police District had been committed by offenders demanding synthetic cannabis products, with the weapons used ranging from knives to firearms.
Also of real concern to Police is a rising number of incidents involving young people.
Synthetic cannabis is seen as the motivating factor in the case of a 17-year-old Dunedin man, who recently appeared in court on representative charges following a crime spree that involved breaking into 27 different vehicles in early 2012.
And recently, two North Island children, aged 9 and 10, were admitted to hospital after being found vomiting and unresponsive. Police inquiries established they appeared to have been given K2 by a group of older boys.
The active content in synthetic cannabinoid products is contained in a chemical solution that is sprayed onto the plant material – with the two new banned substances part of a growing list of prohibited chemicals, currently numbering 35.
“Police will continue to work under the leadership of the Ministry of Health and with other agencies to proactively enforce the law and to educate the community about the impact of these drugs.
"Our district neighbourhood policing teams have also been actively working in communities and targeting business owners, such as dairies, in order to educate retailers about the potential harm caused through the selling of these products and their legal obligations," Mr Bush said.
Mr Bush says the anticipated enactment of the Psychoactive Substances Act on 13 August would be another welcome tool in the ongoing fight to reduce the negative impact of synthetic cannabinoids on communities.
Currently, those who sell synthetic cannabinoids must comply with the Smoke-free Environments Act (1990) (SEA), which states that 'herbal smoking products' cannot be sold or supplied to people aged under 18. This is irrespective of whether the product contains an illegal synthetic cannabinoid.
Media Contact: Christopher Johnston 04 474 8856