Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Synthetics: Maybe this mess will do some good

22 Responses

  • Russell Brown,

    Radio NZ has been doing well with this story. Susan Strongman talked to both users and ESR for The Wireless.

    And John Campbell went out and talked to some users in the street:

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22227 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Good to hear Dunne clearly name the two biggest problems to sensible drug law reform: National and Labour. Let's all keep saying it.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2054 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    They’re all just retail brands that have jumped the fence to become generic descriptors of a group of drugs.

    Like HEROIN® huh?
    We'll need more than a BAND-AID®
    to stop people HOOVER®ing up these drugs...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7480 posts Report Reply

  • Neil,

    It’s important for emergency medical staff to know these things, and unhelpful for them to have to deal with noise about fly spray and weedkiller.

    I spoke with a number of people a month or more before this hit the headlines and they told me the recipe being used containing fly spray.

    It was in the context of two people becoming very ill with one of them being hospitalised.

    As yet we don't know the exact cause of these deaths. But locally, products are being used that are cheap and readily available.

    That might not be the full story but it is happening.

    Since Nov 2016 • 127 posts Report Reply

  • Neil,

    I'm not quite sure why the police are being seen as unhelpful. They and the coroner made a public statement to alert people to the danger and clearly stated that some canabinods are extremely dangerous and can be mixed with other chemicals.

    The emergency treatment of someone with a toxic delirium will initially be symptomatic - dealing with seizures, dehydration, chest pain, nausea, aggression etc. If blood tests show canabiboids then not much changes. (I might be wrong there). And not much changes according to the particular canabinoid - the severity of the toxic delirium is the determining factor. (Again I could be wrong on that).

    Since Nov 2016 • 127 posts Report Reply

  • william blake,

    I feel really uncomfortable with the lines being drawn around visibly homeless people and these poisonous drugs. Bill English has gone down the personal responsibility route, blaming the victims, and Heart of the City is using the issue to try to get more leverage to ‘remove’ street people from the CBD,pretty heartless really.

    With poverty and homelessness being major election issues, using people’s misery against them is really horrible. Rather than grandstanding our community leaders should be trying their best to reverse poverty and all of it’s symptoms.

    Since Mar 2010 • 350 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody,

    in what now seem like the good old days

    If I interpret that right, Russell, I think you’re suggesting the ‘good old days’ were when we had a functioning synthetic cannabis regulatory regime.

    But if I read the literature right, any/all synthetic cannabinoids are more physically addictive than the natural product? If the case, then I just don’t know that regulated distribution is the answer – it seems to me to be almost like introducing highly addictive tobacco products in this day and age.

    Dependency/addiction seems to me to be much, much more harmful than the other harmful effects, such as psychosis, seizures, etc.

    Palmerston North • Since Sep 2014 • 743 posts Report Reply

  • Neil, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    If the case, then I just don’t know that regulated distribution is the answer – it seems to me to be almost like introducing highly addictive tobacco products in this day and age.

    There's two issues. One is price point. Synthetics are cheaper than weed which is why a lot of people living rough are using them. Making weed cheaper would displace some of that.

    But as with solvent users there are people who will just prefer the type of hit they get over that of other drugs no matter the risk.

    And most likely any new chemical compound will develop a market.

    It's going to be difficult but I think having available the safer alternatives - including opiates and psychedelics - will help keep that market small.

    Since Nov 2016 • 127 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    A good presentation from Professor Janie Sheridan of the University of Auckland's Centre for Addiction Research on how a Drug Early Warning System might look in New Zealand.

    This is from last December. I gather the work is underway.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22227 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    in what now seem like the good old days

    If I interpret that right, Russell, I think you’re suggesting the ‘good old days’ were when we had a functioning synthetic cannabis regulatory regime.

    I meant more, would that we only had the problems we had when these drugs were regulated. I probably should also have linked to the comment piece I wrote earlier in the week for RNZ:

    This isn’t going to be easy to fix. This is a class of drugs that isn’t really amenable to regulation – and yet, the harm the drugs cause is now far greater than anything that occurred when they were legal and regulated.

    Legalising natural cannabis isn’t a quick fix either. Perhaps if 10 years ago natural cannabis had been legalised, the synthetic market would never have developed. Perhaps. But in California, where weed is as good as legal, synthetic cannabis products still take a toll – and they take it on the same sector as they do here: the homeless and itinerant.

    What would help, for now, is for police to stop being cute and release their test data.

    I totally get what you’re saying, in other words.

    I’m currently looking for a time machine so we can go back to 2007 and regulate natural cannabis, and/or regulate rather than ban the very first synthetic products, which look pretty benign compared to either what was in the market under the PSA or what’s in the market now.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22227 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Well, I recall a moral panic, fed by social and regular media, about how OTC synthetics were destroying communities, causing homelessness, turning people into zombies, etc.

    This (like most things in the media) was at odds with the experiences of People I Met. The products resulted in a state anywhere between giggly and completely fucked up - pretty much doing what it says on the tin.

    And, as noted, negative effects of all drugs disproportionately apply to the "homeless and itinerant". Middle class people with jobs to go to on Tuesday have an outstanding capacity to hoover up anything that doesn't actually kill you and remain functional. It's the "oh shit, better lay off" rather than the "oh shit, let's have more" reaction.

    Fixing the underlying problems would help more people deal with the substances they'll inevitably obtain. But it's easier for government (of any stripe) to blame the Evil Drug Dealers than to go down that path.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5528 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Press editorial:
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/opinion/95169775/editorial-the-highs-and-lows-of-synthetic-cannabis

    It was a brave stand by Jesse Mulligan on The Project to reject using 'synthetic cannabis' as a descriptor of this 'lucky dip of chemistry' - not sure that 'synthicide' will slip into the vernacular though.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7480 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Well, I recall a moral panic, fed by social and regular media, about how OTC synthetics were destroying communities, causing homelessness, turning people into zombies, etc.

    This (like most things in the media) was at odds with the experiences of People I Met. The products resulted in a state anywhere between giggly and completely fucked up – pretty much doing what it says on the tin.

    I tried some a couple of times pre-PSA and came to no harm whatsoever. But, in part because of the banning of the first wave, things did start to get nasty. A dependence problem surfaced during the PSA period, but it had been building for a while. I saw some well-employed middle-class people do the sudden-unconsciousness thing one night, in public – that was pretty weird.

    And now with what you might call the third wave of products – 20 acute emergency cases a day and eight deaths – I think it's fair to say these aren't the best drugs for anyone to be taking.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22227 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Yes, it was good. Maybe they could rename it 'Poor man's cannabis'?

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2497 posts Report Reply

  • Neil,

    A dark view of things would be that we've moved from a situation of relative clarity - most illegal drugs aren't that harmful and should be at least decriminalised - to a new world of chemical expertise run by the unscrupulous churning out harm faster than we can organise against.

    Since Nov 2016 • 127 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to Neil,

    A dark view of things would be that we’ve moved from a situation of relative clarity – most illegal drugs aren’t that harmful and should be at least decriminalised – to a new world of chemical expertise run by the unscrupulous churning out harm faster than we can organise against.

    Yes, very scary possibility.

    Palmerston North • Since Sep 2014 • 743 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    I wouldn’t say most illegal drugs aren’t that harmful. Some of them can kill you stone cold dead, or severely damage your brain. The question is, why do some people of all social classes , do all manner of things to obtain these illegal drugs? And why is the threat of being thrown into the dungeons with very nasty gangs of violent criminals not solving the problem?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3845 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody,

    Palmerston North • Since Sep 2014 • 743 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody,

    Palmerston North • Since Sep 2014 • 743 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    The commission has actually made some sound recommendations: better data systems, opioid substitution (still controversial in the US, 30 years after methadone therapy in NZ), better access to naloxone.

    Trump will go for border walls and heavy policing. His whole thing is doing the opposite of what's wise.

    Also: Katharine - ZeroHedge!? Argh!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22227 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Also: Katharine – ZeroHedge!? Argh!

    I hear you :-)... lol.

    Also, I hope Trump actually stuns us all and actually listens to the experts. He's the one that established the commission.

    Palmerston North • Since Sep 2014 • 743 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody,

    Palmerston North • Since Sep 2014 • 743 posts Report Reply

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