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May 4, 2014 | by  | in Ngāi Tauira Opinion |
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Ngai Tauira

“What is a drug?”

The Collins Dictionary would answer: “A drug is a medicine or other substance which has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body”; and this is only one of many explanations of the word ‘drug’. Our aunty Google tells us that drugs can range from the smallest of good things to the biggest of worst things.

We tauira can identify with most of these substances: like coffee the night before your exam, your morning Red Bull two hours before an assignment is due, getting OTP celebrating anything or nothing, dope, and lastly, synthetic highs. Even though none of us have ever taken any illegal drugs or substances *cough, cough*, and joke about those funny times, it is a serious issue that negatively impacts many whānau and communities. Regardless of the city or town you go to, there is always the underlying assumption that Māori are the common users, or overusers, of these illegal substances. Ka mau te wehi! What a load of crap! Yes, “meowris” are users, but so are the rest of the Pākeha population; yet we are more often than not in the spotlight, especially when it comes to media information or, rather, misinformation.

Illegal highs versus legal highs?

It doesn’t really make sense nē rā? Here in Aotearoa, but not for much longer, we have dangerous legal highs such as synthetic cannabis a.k.a. K2, Kronic and Spice. Even though it clearly states on the packaging, “WARNING: NOT SAFE for human consumption”, people of Aotearoa clearly still go out and buy this stuff. Would it make a difference if it stated: “HIGHLY ADDICTIVE and KILLS RELATIONSHIPS… but it’s okay because it’s man-made and the Government does not mind us selling it to you for now”?

The side effects of these drugs are endless, from delayed reaction to severe paranoia and psychosis. I read an article in the newspaper about a 19-year-old who had a baby and was on the benefit smoking at least $20 worth of synthetic highs a day. This is tragic: what is left for the tamariki? Do they go to kura without food?

But now, from 6 May, these legal highs will gain an ‘il’ in front, thanks to our beehived government opening both eyes on such an out-of-control product. What does this mean for the makers, manufacturers, middlemen and small stores that are selling these drugs? Will they begin to operate underground to ensure their business is still booming through the roof? Will this mean our rangatahi hustling their way through the gangs to get their hit for the day?

Let’s wait and see what will happen in the next few years. Mauri Ora whānau!

Te Po Hawaikirangi
Phone: (04) 463 9762
Email: ngaitauira@vuw.ac.nz

 

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