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Southern mayors unite against synthetic drugs

Three southern Mayors are uniting in the fight against synthetic drugs and are asking Parliament to ban them outright.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt, Southland District Mayor Gary Tong and Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks have written an open letter to Health Minister Tony Ryall and Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne, asking them to reconsider the consequences of the Psychoactive Substances Act 2013, and asking for a total ban on psychoactive substances.

There was overwhelming feedback from the people of Southland, who wanted these substances to be banned, the Mayors said.

“As Mayors we are saddened our elected Members of Parliament have passed legislation allowing these substances to be available in our regions and the rest of New Zealand. These substances diminish the very fabric of our society and communities – putting families and youth at risk,” the letter says.

The long-term effect of these substances was uncertain and was likely to create unprecedented demands on New Zealand’s health and social sector agencies, they said.

“These synthetic chemicals will lead to significant societal problems and threaten to destroy many young New Zealanders’ futures. The harm caused will lead to wide-reaching social and economic impacts on our country.”

The Mayors said they would continue to uphold the law – but would not stand back and accept the damage these drugs were causing in their towns and regions, and across cities in New Zealand.

They have asked the Ministers why councils were expected to enforce universally unwanted regulations, how MPs could stand by and watch New Zealand’s social fabric be destroyed by these substances, and what it would take for MPs to revisit the act and ban all these substances completely.

They have asked for a written response, upon receipt of which they will determine their next step in the campaign.

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