A toxicologist has recorded a spike in calls from people in the Bay of Plenty who are suffering the effects of synthetic cannabis use.
In the past few months, the Dunedin-based National Poisons Centre has received six synthetic cannabis-related calls from the Bay of Plenty - one of the highest readings in the country.
Toxicologist Dr Leo Schep said the number of calls received from the Bay of Plenty region had significantly increased in recent months. "We've seen an increase [of calls] in the past couple of months and these numbers reflect what's going on there," he said.
"Any spike for us suggests an increase in usage in the community ... and that's certainly what we're seeing in the Bay of Plenty."
In the same time, the toxicology centre received six calls from the Otago region and five from the Canterbury and West Coast region. Dr Schep said the most common users were in the age bracket of 16-20 years.
In the Western Bay, one retailer is continuing to sell synthetic cannabis products until they are banned.
Tauranga's Puff N Stuff retailer Mike Lawrence said synthetic cannabis products were not advertised or on display in the store, and he was very careful about who he sold the products to.
Mr Lawrence said he was aware a number of other retailers, particularly dairies, had stopped selling synthetic cannabis products.
Asked if he would stop, Mr Lawrence said he would when the products became banned.
From the middle of next year, legal high manufacturers will face an estimated $180,000 application fee plus $1 million to $2 million in testing costs for each product they want to sell. They could also face up to eight years' jail for selling banned substances.