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Ban Synthetic Highs Campaign

Ban Synthetic Highs Campaign

“Dear John, our community says NO to legalised synthetic highs”, announced Toa Greening a spokesperson for Team Manurewa/Team South/Team Health at the Sunday launch of a nationwide campaign to ban synthetic highs. We are sending letters to the Prime Minister and have started a petition to urgently ban all Synthetic highs for the following reasons.

• New Zealander’s did not want or expect legalisation of psychoactive substances • Psychoactive substances were legally back on the shelves within two weeks • Panic attacks, paranoia and psychosis are not “minimal” side effects • Long term dependency and negative health effects are not acceptable • Use encourages crime and has negative social impacts • Animals should not die so humans can get high • Prohibition is possible and enforceable, Ireland did it in 2010

Like all New Zealanders we celebrated when the new psychoactive substances bill was passed by parliament. We believed that this would be the end of these destructive drugs.... but it wasn’t.

New Zealanders around the country are only just coming to the realisation that we are the first country in the world to legalise synthetic highs. In fact today starts the new interim licensing period which allows those approved importers, manufacturers, specialty stores and websites to legally sell a range of highs for the next three years. That’s right the same untested and dangerous highs are now legally available in specialty stores and websites.... unbelievable and unacceptable.

Earlier this month we contacted the Ministry of Health to try and understand their side of the story. Below are the questions sent to the Ministry, we are still waiting for answers.

• Specialty stores are now selling the previous psychoactive substances that were not previously banned. Is this permitted under the new Bill? • When will the new packaging regime be in place? • When will the new testing regime be in place? • Are there any Psychoactive Substances licensing officers, where will they be based, who do they report to and are they currently checking stores, importers and manufacturers? • Will interim or full retail licenses be published to the public? • Will public be able to contest interim or full retail licenses? • Will public be able to request modifications to opening and closing times to interim or full retail licenses? • How many interim retail license have been submitted? • How many interim retail licenses have been approved? • Will public be able to view interim retail license applications? • Will public be able to view retail licenses for new Psychoactive Substance products? • Will public be able to contest retail licenses for new Psychoactive Substance products? • Will public be able to view testing licenses for new Psychoactive Substance products? • Will public be able to contest testing licenses for new Psychoactive Substance products? • Will public be able to view the testing results for new Psychoactive Substance products? • Will public be able to contest the testing results for new Psychoactive Substance products? • Has the definition for a low risk Psychoactive Substance been established and will public have input into the definition? • Will there be mandatory Psychoactive Substance tests? • What weight will addiction be given in determining approval? • What weight will short term negative health effects as below are given in determining approval? o reduction/loss of cognitive functions o reduction/loss of organ functions o reduction/loss of motor functions o reduction/loss of all five sense o reduction/loss of control over emotions o psychosis/depression/aggression/paranoia/risk taking/suicidal behaviour o hallucinations o hyperactivity/sedentary o sleeplessness/drowsiness o increased/decreased appetite • How will the regular short term negative health effects be tested to ensure that they do not manifest into permanent health effects? • How will long term negative effects as below which may take decades to manifest be tested? o permanent psychosis/depression/aggression/paranoia/risk taking/suicidal behaviour o premature organ failure o immunological related illnesses o cancer o birth/genetic defects • What weight will long term negative health effects have in determining approval? • Will Psychoactive Substance driving and heavy machinery legal limits be established for each product? • Will detection devices of Psychoactive Substances be developed as part of establishing Psychoactive Substance driving and heavy machinery legal limits? • Will there be monitoring of alcohol/illegal drug/Psychoactive Substance usage and rehabilitation? • Will there be mandatory epidemiological research into the effects of Psychoactive Substance usage on health, crime, social impacts, alcohol and illegal drug usage? • Will there be Psychoactive Substance taxes to fund the new regulation regime? • Will there be loss leader restrictions and minimal pricing of Psychoactive Substances? • Will there be dedicated funding for Psychoactive Substance education? • Will there be dedicated funding for Psychoactive Substance treatment?

• Will the Ministry of Health be accountable for any resulting health issues from approved Psychoactive Substances?

All across the country from Auckland, Hamilton to Greymouth, Communities and Councils are struggling with retail stores continuing to sell these legalised highs and now websites couriering highs across the nation. Some are actively protesting to close local stores down; others are tying to bring forward new location rules. It all amounts to Government washing their hands clean of the problems and passing it onto Communities and Councils.

New Zealand is now heading down an unacceptable path where the normalisation of synthetic highs will become a way of life. The ramifications of such a large scale experiment could be devastating in the long term to our health, society and our children’s future.

This is why it is important that local communities make a stand and that those candidates wishing to represent their communities in five weeks time must make a stand to bring in a full ban of synthetic highs. A full ban was a success in Ireland in 2010 and will also be successful in New Zealand.

On Sunday 100’s of letters were prepared and 100’s signed the petition in Manurewa over a three hour period, an encouraging start to the nationwide campaign. The petition to parliament and letter to the Prime Minister can be downloaded from our website. http://www.TeamManurewa.org.nz


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