Those at the coalface of the synthetic drug problem plaguing communities appeared before the health select committee in parliament today to make recommendations on the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill, which aims to crack down on synthetics.
Hāpai te Hauora general manager Janell Dymus-Kurei is concerned about the rising number of synthetic drug deaths, given more than half of synthetic users are Māori.
"Our people are still dying by synthetics and the numbers have grown from about 60 to about 80 people," she says.
The bill would give police more powers to refer synthetics users to health services instead of arresting them.
Dymus-Kurei has raised concerns about the ability of health services to meet demand.
She also questions whether using the proposed 56g threshold to distinguish suppliers from users is realistic, given people often both supply and use, and those with severe addictions could use this amount in a single day.
"[Police] will only look at the possession threshold and that could make it difficult for police to think about how, when or whether they use that health approach," she says.
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