Synthetic cannabis dealers should be charged with manslaughter, doctor says

  • 21/09/2018

A doctor says those who deal synthetic cannabis should be charged with manslaughter, as the drug continues to overwhelm emergency services.

Canterbury DHB say they are seeing more and more people in Emergency Departments because of synthetic drugs.

In the last 24 hours alone ten people have been admitted to Christchurch's ED for suspected drug use.

Parr, a user of synthetic cannabis, says he's reached out for help but no one is listening.

"I used to see all my mates smoking it, I walked around and put them down about it and then I tried it and now I'm f***…  I'm a different person then what I used to be, hitting and that, hitting my wife… I hate the drug," he says. 

A paramedic told The Project for a while last year "it was nearly every second patient we picked up, paramedics get punched, kicked in the head and knocked out".

"It was a lot of seizing and no antidotes, it took a lot of sedatives to stop them from seizing and sometimes you couldn't. You just drive them while their seizing an that's where the deaths happen, their brains get no oxygen an they're just brain dead."

Dr Paul Quigley of the Wellington Hospital Emergency Department says it should be a class A drug, but that comes with issues.

"That means we punish the users for having possession of it, it is a criminal offence. That's not what these people need, they are already dispossessed and on the edge of society. We're a bit stuck."

Dr Quigley believes that dealers should be charged with manslaughter, "we have clear evidence the drug leads to death."

Another way forward could be bringing in anonymous drug checking testing stations, so that users could find out if a batch could be potentially lethal.