Proposed Bill calls for tougher penalties for synthetics suppliers

Auckland MP Simeon Brown hopes his Bill calling for tougher sentences for synthetic drug suppliers will be debated in Parliament tomorrow, following the release of a hard-hitting documentary.

Vice's Syn City goes behind the scenes with users, emergency department doctors and synthetic suppliers after 25 deaths in 2017.

But new figures suggest even more people may have died at the hands of synthetic drugs than the documentary suggests.

West Aucklander Trey's best friend died after smoking synthetics at 17. He, too, is lucky to be alive.

"My mum came up to me crying and says, 'you almost died, son, I found you basically half-dead in the bathtub'." 

Syn City outlines how at least 25 people died last year as a result of synthetic drug use, but the Ministry of Justice suggests that figure could be even higher. 

It has 30 deaths from June last year until today provisionally linked to synthetics. Those deaths are before coroners around the country. 

Making synthetics illegal in 2013 forced the market underground. 

National MP Simeon Brown wants to hit suppliers and manufacturers where it hurts, with a Private Members Bill that would increase their maximum sentence from two years to eight.

"Two years is too weak," he says.

"We need to have a sentence that reflects the harm that these drugs are causing to the families."

The family of Calum Jones told Newshub that they agree with the Bill. The 22-year-old died in September 2017 from just a finger-nail sized dose.

"The penalty increase is a deterrent," says father Lewis Jones.

"Young people out there will see it as 'is eight years worth selling something for five dollars?'"

His family says Calum loved life, but they struggled to find the right support for him.

"We were just begging for help," says Mr Jones.

"He was just a figure of what he usually was," says sister Heather. 

"He was just, 'where's my money for the next bag' really and that was really hard to see."

Now they want lawmakers to see how synthetics are tearing families apart, and to get tougher on suppliers before further lives are lost.