Police cracking down on synthetic highs

By Talisa Kupenga

Police say while there is no evidence to suggest there is a "bad batch" of synthetic cannabis laced with other chemicals, the compounds are highly dangerous on their own. This follows the eighth death in Auckland this month linked to the use of the drug. 

Police say they are cracking down on synthetic highs following a spike of use in Auckland.

Auckland District Acting Detective Inspector, Peter Florence says, "It's like any drug, all drugs are a problem, but it seems it's raised its head at this current time."

Last week St Johns responded to 43 incidents in two days that involved synthetic highs. Auckland Hospital had 22 cases and one death while Manukau DHB has had six cases and one death since the weekend.

Florence says, "It can be traumatic and people can lose their lives. It can affect families. Arrests have been made, we're executing search warrants and we're progressing in our investigation to find the source."

The NZ Drug Foundation says Police should share test results of synthetic cannabis they've seized to better inform the public, following incorrect reports their seized substances were laced with other chemicals.

NZ Drug Foundation adviser, Gilbert Taurua says, "There seems to be a lack of information coming through those core statutory organisations. There are 600 various strains of this substance, obviously if we can get earlier notification of the types of substances that are potentially putting people at risk obviously we can communicate those into the community."

Florence says, "We're testing many but we've had one sample back it is synthetic cannabis. There was no other items in it hadn't been spiked or anything like that."

Police say if you see anyone using, supplying or manufacturing synthetics to contact them directly.