NZ Herald 15 May 2015
The number of synthetic cannabis users seeking mental health care halved after legal controls were imposed and have become rare since all products were ordered off shelves.
But new drugs are turning up to replace synthetic cannabis, making some users “quite psychotic”, says psychiatrist Dr Paul Glue.
He said the legal clampdown on synthetic cannabis had virtually stopped the flow of mainly young male patients into mental health care suffering from its toxic effects.
“You might see one every two or three months. It seems there is a very small amount of synthetic cannabis now. The number of people presenting with some sort of toxicity due to it is incredibly rare.”
This is in marked contrast to early 2013 – before the Psychoactive Substances Act was passed in July of that year – when doctors found that 13 per cent of patients at an acute psychiatric ward in Dunedin had been using K2, a popular brand of synthetic cannabis. The researchers said in the New Zealand Medical Journal it appeared synthetic cannabis could trigger psychosis in those with no history of the mental disorder and those who had had previous episodes.
Legal high ban cut psychiatric cases – study
3News 15 May 2015
The minister behind the disappearance of synthetic cannabis from Kiwi shop shelves says he’s not surprised by new research showing the ban halved the number of users seeking medical treatment.
But Peter Dunne, who drove 2013’s Psychoactive Substances Act through Parliament, is concerned the study’s findings may be clouded by smokers lying about their cannabis use, claiming to be under the influence of synthetic products that were then legal, like Kronic.
The Psychoactive Substances Act dramatically reduced the number of ‘legal highs’ on shop shelves by requiring manufacturers to prove their product was safe to use before they could sell it. It also cut the number of outlets able to sell the products, from thousands to about 100.
In 2014, a Bill passed under urgency banned the remaining products the 2013 Act failed to catch.
But despite its limitations, the 2013 Act had a huge impact on mental health – at least in Dunedin, where the study was carried out.