Yet another death from so-called 'synthetic cannabis'

  • 01/08/2017

Another person is believed to have died from taking synthetic drugs in Auckland, taking the recent death toll to 10.

Police are investigating the death of a 47-year-old male whose body was discovered in a hostel in central Auckland on 28 July.

They believe the death may be linked to the psychoactive substance known as 'synthetic cannabis', and has been referred to the Coroner.

St Johns Ambulance is treating more than 20 people daily for incidents involving the drugs.

Some victims' hearts just stop beating, while other patients often act abusive or threatening towards ambulance officers.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has met with the Chief Coroner, Judge Deborah Marshall, and Auckland City district police commander Karyn Malthus, to discuss a more collaborative approach to the issue.

Mr Dunne told Newshub that they've agreed to share information - including on what exactly the deadly substance is.

"This is a huge problem, we don't have a lot of the answers at this point in terms of what the substances are - the testing process is underway, but that will take some time to produce results," Mr Dunne said.

"But the clear message in the meantime - and at all times really - is this stuff is dangerous, it will kill, don't use it.

"We've had 10 deaths so far, that's unacceptable by any standard and the message has to go out to people to avoid using this stuff."

He insists the public have a need to know what the substances are, and they will release the information as soon as the drugs can be identified.

Mr Dunne is calling it an "unprecedented situation".

"It's not unusual in terms of what is going on around the world but that's no comfort, but the reality is we've got to send the message very clearly: this stuff is dangerous, it's illegal, we don't know what it is at this point and people shouldn't use it - or even attempt to use it."