MORE than 50 protestors turned out in the streets to “say no to legal highs” in Gisborne.The protest started outside the new Grey Street shop and continued to the two other shops in Gisborne believed to be selling synthethic cannabis under the new Psychoactive Substances Act regulations.
But one shop owner says society should get educated about the substances before condeming them as it was better the products were controlled by government regulations rather than forced into the black market with no regulations. The protest began outside the Grey Street shop identified as the latest business set up to sell legal highs, before continuing to Cultural Experience in Gladstone Road, Mojo adult shop in Lowe Street, and ending outside Gisborne District Council offices in Fitzherbert Street. Among protestors was Robert Hunter, who in April walked the East Coast on his “Walking for Jonathan” campaign to raise awareness about the link between marijuana usage and mental illness. His son Jonathan died tragically in 2011 after a relapse into depression and psychosis ascribed to heavy cannabis use. “For some people, marijuana can cause mental illness when they smoke it and indications are that synthetic products are even worse. We live in a beautiful place and we don’t need drugs to enjoy ourselves,” Mr Hunter said. “I want to see all so-called recreational drugs made illegal and eradicated.”
A few among the crowd thought that decriminalising marijuana was a better option to synthetic products with their unknown chemicals.Gisborne woman Val McGregor was against drugs in general but legal highs in particular. “We have to try to do something because we don’t want anything legalised and it shouldn’t be allowed in the country,” she said. “At least marijuana is a natural product,” said another woman. Cultural Experience brought out a sandwich board urging cars driving past to “toot” their support for legalising marijuana. At the Gisborne District Council stop, chief executive Judy Campbell said her staff were investigating the council’s bylaw powers under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2012. It seemed it was more about how to control the process rather than an all-out ban, but they would know for sure when a report was presented next month to the full council meeting on September 5. Concerned people should attend that meeting at 9am, she said. Protest organiser Michelle Lexmond said the council should lead the way on the issue and ban legal highs in this district.
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