Police have issued a stark warning after the deaths of at least seven synthetic cannabis users in Auckland over the past month.
“If we don’t do something about this, further people are going to die,” Detective Inspector Gary Lendrum said at a press conference on Friday afternoon.
“We’ve got reports of 13-year-olds right through to 64-year-olds using this product, so it’s right across New Zealand, and right across society.”
GRAPHIC WARNING: Police release CCTV footage of man becoming violently ill after using synthetic cannabis.
Lendrum said synthetic cannabis had been a problem for some time, but there had been a sudden unexplained spike in recent months.
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“There is clear evidence that it’s being distributed by gangs. Where it’s being manufactured, and how, is less clear,” he said.
Synthetic cannabis is a banned substance in New Zealand, and can be much stronger than the organic variety.
The deaths were confirmed in a joint statement released on Friday that included a further warning from Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall.
“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,” she said.
“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 also released CCTV footage of an incident in Auckland’s CBD earlier this year that shows a man