THE dangers surrounding synthetic cannabis have been highlighted locally after two high school students were hospitalised after smoking the banned substance.
The students suffered adverse health effects and were rushed to hospital after a group of pupils reportedly smoked the substance before school last week behind the Coffs Harbour PCYC.
The Department of Education said nine other students at the school in Years 8 and 9 had been suspended over the incident.
"Orara High School does not tolerate the use of drugs," a spokesman for the Department of Education said.
"On Thursday two students were hospitalised after smoking a substance in a nearby park before school.
"The school reported the incident to police and ambulance as soon as teachers became aware of it."
While synthetic cannabis was outlawed in New South Wales in 2013 as a prohibited substance, it can still be purchased easily over the internet.
A parent of one suspended student contacted the Advocate to voice his concern over the prevalence of the drug in school yards and its use by teenagers.
"To my shock two students had to be hospitalised due to adverse affects," the parent said. Questioning the severity of the suspension given to students, the parent said it was important the school offered the students counselling.
"At this stage my child has been suspended until next year. We are dealing with the issue. I just hope support is offered to these students," the parent said.
"I'm not condoning what these kids have done, we are dealing with that, but I question the severity of the punishment and that no effort has been made to deal with issue.
"There's got to be a duty of care, not just an attitude of you did the wrong thing and come back to school next year."
The department said parents of the students involved in the incident were contacted by the school, and additional personal counselling and support would be made available.
"Drug issues are addressed comprehensively and in an age-appropriate way in the mandatory Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) syllabus," the spokesman said.
"Orara High School also has a number of student wellbeing programs in the school that address the issue of drug use."