31 Jul 2018

Govt departments urged to find solution on synthetic cannabis

3:21 pm on 31 July 2018

Government agencies have been asked to urgently find ways to reduce the harm caused by synthetic cannabis.

No caption

Photo: 123rf.com

Figures from the Coroner show 40 to 45 people died in the year to June because of synthetic cannabis, compared with two deaths in the previous five years.

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters said the ministers of health, justice, police and customs would seek advice from their agencies and put their heads together to find the best solution.

"There has been a lot of work on this in the past but I think we have to be honest in that we haven't come up with the kind of solutions which have seen a turnaround or a victory against the people who are peddling this stuff."

Mr Peters would not rule out including part of National Party MP Simeon Brown's bill, which would increase the maximum jail sentence for selling or supplying synthetic drugs from two years to eight.

"The police say that that would not work.

"Maybe we should look at the big picture rather than taking a party-parochial position on these issues."

Mr Brown hoped this would be the action needed on synthetic cannabis, and not yet another government review.

"[My bill] is tackling those who are supplying these drugs and who are merchants of misery.

"They need to be seen as the serious drugs that they are, and not seen as something which reserves a light penalty."

Mr Peters has not given a timeframe for a solution.