Police urge public to intervene to stop synthetic cannabis use

Police say synthetic cannabis could

A joint statement has been issued by the Chief Coroner and Police warning that at least seven deaths in July in Auckland appear to be linked to the use of synthetic cannabis.

Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall says Coronial Services have been notified of seven deaths in the last month, where the deceased is believed to have used synthetic cannabis recently or were found with the drug on them. 

She says, "I've also been advised by St John that there have been a significant number of non-fatal cases where people have been hospitalised after using the drug, which is known to cause potentially fatal seizures.

"While the Police and coronial investigations are still at an early stage, and the final causes of death have yet to be established, the number of cases where synthetic cannabis appear to have been a contributing factor has prompted me to issue this public warning."

Police say the issue is not unique to Auckland, that it reaches right across New Zealand, and right across society.

The impact of synthetic cannabis in other communities in New Zealand is also concerning Police.

CCTV footage is being released by Police which shows an incident in Auckland’s CBD earlier this year where a male was violently ill and could barely stand after smoking synthetic cannabis.

Detective Inspector Gary Lendrum says Police have released this footage to highlight the effects that synthetic cannabis has, and the significant harm it causes in communities.

He says, "We have grave concerns as users don’t know what poisonous chemicals they are potentially putting into their bodies when they’re smoking this drug."

Tests conducted of the synthetic cannabis have shown that it can be very dangerous.  There is also the possibility that some products can be laced with other unknown chemicals.

“Police have been conducting multiple search warrants and arrests of individuals from across Auckland.  One synthetic cannabis operation in Avondale has resulted in 12 arrests over the past few months.

"It is a dangerous, illegal substance and we will arrest those who are selling this harmful drug and place them before the Courts,” says Detective Inspector Lendrum.

“What we need from our community is for them to tell us if they know who are selling these drugs.  You can visit or call your local Police station or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

“We as a community need to work together to stop this drug before another life is taken.”