A 3D investigation has revealed the problem with synthetic cannabis in New Zealand is bigger than ever. Dealers now say synthetics are a bigger money-maker than P.
The black market in synthetic psychoactive drugs – the artificial cannabis you could once buy legally in dairies – is booming, with the synthetics being made and distributed across the country.
There's increasing evidence the new, uncontrolled synthetic drugs could kill.
Samples of synthetic cannabis analysed by scientists at Auckland's ESR lab showed a different psychoactive chemical each, both of which are banned internationally, and both of which have been associated with deaths overseas.
"They are definitely highly toxic, potentially highly potent, and they cause significant harm," says toxicologist and emergency medicine specialist Chip Gresham. "They cause seizures. They've been reported to cause death. This is not like natural marijuana; the synthetic cannabinoids are something completely different."
One of the cannabinoids, "5F-PB-22", was in a sample from Tauranga.
Something called "AB-FUBINACA" was present in a sample obtained from a gang-run state house in south Auckland.
In the US, medical literature has linked several deaths to both compounds, with users experiencing frightening side effects ranging from breathlessness to acute liver and kidney injuries before death.
Those on the frontline say the Government should accept that a serious problem remains.
Watch the video for the full 3D report.