by Chris Tobin
Methamphetamine use must be viewed as a mental health issue, recently elected Environment Canterbury councillor Dr Elizabeth McKenzie, of Fairlie, believes.
“It’s a very sad issue and it has to be treated as a mental health issue rather than through terms of locking people away.”
Dr McKenzie completed her PhD on clandestine methamphetamine laboratories in New Zealand.
“Meth used to be produced in New Zealand – now it’s coming from overseas through the main ports. It comes in through small boats and is distributed.
“Timaru port would be an inlet. We used to see clumps of labs near the ports, although it’s different now with people cooking it up themselves.”
Dr McKenzie completed her PhD in 2013 and worked at the Centre for Genomics, Proteomics and Metabolomics, School of Biological Sciences, at the University of Auckland. She relocated to Fairlie in the middle of the year and polled the most votes among those contesting the South Canterbury constituency’s two seats on Environment Canterbury.
She said the degree to which meth-contaminated homes needed to be cleaned depended on who lived in them afterwards.
“If they are elderly or children you need more stringent levels. If a housewife is home all day it should have to be cleaned to a higher level.”
If contaminated homes were not cleaned properly it was a problem that might come back and “bite in the future” in terms of health effects.
“Doctors treat symptoms but don’t ask regarding the homes.”
She said the use of meth was not confined to any sector of society and it was used by workers such as truck drivers to stay awake.
“It’s indicative of our society.”