Friends of teen who died from synthetic cannabis warn others

Close friends of a west Auckland teenager who recently died after smoking synthetic cannabis have made a desperate plea for users to stop.

Devonte Pierce is one of seven people who died in Auckland this month after using the lethal and illegal street drug.

He was just 17 years old when he died last weekend after smoking synthetic cannabis.

Tashamarie Johnson says Mr Pierce saw her as his second mum, and had been at her house just hours before his death.

"All we were told was that he was woken up in the morning quite early from somebody else to have a session of synthetics and just didn't wake up."

She says the teen had only just started smoking synthetics, and yet she'd already found him once in a bad way.

"My son had come and got me and said, Mum, we need to ring an ambulance,' and I said, 'Why?' And I ran down to the room and Devonte had seizured."

Tashamarie's son, Trey Patterson, was Mr Pierce's best friend and was a regular user until the beginning of this year. He also tried to make his friend stop, and says his heart-breaking death is a huge wake-up call.

"I actually had a seizure myself... And then I watched a video of me doing it and I just thought... 'Wow that's just not me.'"

Ms Johnson and her son say once you're hooked, it's extremely hard to get off. They both agree synthetics are easier to get than traditional cannabis, and much stronger.

"Around here... you can just walk down the street and someone will just come up to you and say, 'Hey, want to buy a bag, bro?'" Mr Patterson says.

Mr Patterson now calls synthetics "death in a bag", and both he and his mother hope others will learn from Mr Pierce's death.