5 March 2021
The Legal High Trade
“The Love of Money is the root of all evil” the truth of this has been illustrated by the legal high trade flourishing just around the corner from our church.
The local community at Hunter’s corner has been one of the more persistent influences in finally getting the legal highs stopped.
The legal high shop round the corner can no longer sell its wares. The drugs sold were unknown in their makeup. The effects they produced on people buying them, assuming that because they were legal they were OK, ranged from causing death to triggering serious psychoses. Our shop around the corner sold at the lowest prices so people queued up from early in the morning to get the specials. Many were those were the most vulnerable in our community and school children were also seen going in to try out the latest forbidden fruit.
Most communities are rejoicing but the media have sought reactions to the close down from those with most to lose from the decision. Their response is about the undesirability of pushing the trade underground.
So who are saying this? The legal-high pioneer and manufacturer Matt Bowden will have to recall and destroy thousands of packets of synthetic cannabis during the next few weeks, all of which he claims are safe. He said he had already heard reports of criminals setting up low-grade "garage labs" for synthetic cannabis. "It's a bit of a kick in the guts to see the market handed to criminals with no code of practice or hygiene standards at all. It will be like buying from a meth lab instead of a pharmacy."
That statement is highly contestable, the main trader taking the moral high ground about caring so much for the community, yet the media make it with no comment on whether this is a factual claim and nor pointing out that he has the most to lose from the closures.
A columnist Ben Heather reports “The legal-high industry made massive multimillion-dollar profits during the Government's brief fling with regulation.
In a rare insight into the legal-high industry, the Ministry of Health estimates the industry was making a 1000 per cent profit on every packet of synthetic cannabis sold. Chemicals were imported in bulk from China, processed into synthetic cannabis for about $2 a packet and sold for $20. Since the Government set up the regulated market in July last year, it is estimated that 3.5 million packets of synthetic cannabis were sold in New Zealand. Ministry officials have said the sheer scale of the industry caught them by surprise. With estimated sales of about $140m a year, it dwarfed the BZP party pill craze at its height a decade ago.”
Like most things which damage and confuse the trade was driven by greed and money with no real concern for those whom it exploited. It will continue to do so underground but at least young people who assumed it was OK because it was legal can no longer be sucked in. Others will need help to come off their habit and the Ministry of Health is gearing up for that.
But what drives the demand? What in our society is so deficient that people turn to a destructive drug to feel better and get high?
Is it seeking for an illusion about what life offers while fulfilling the insatiable search for more and more portrayed in the images we see around us. The stopping of the legal highs trade is only the band aid, the real problem lies in the desires of human nature and that is something Jesus knew a lot about
Somehow we need to be able to share the good news that we can be set free from this never ending search and find real life which challenges us and satisfies us. Not necessarily an easy life but one which is rich in peace of mind and which allows us to flourish. Something to think on...
May we have the wisdom and love of God to be able to communicate that to those around us.
Rev. Margaret Anne Low
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