Synthetic cannabis: New Zealand police issue warning after spate of deaths – The Guardian

Despite being banned in 2014 the drug is still widely available on the black market and has been linked to seven deaths and many hospitalisations

An addict rolls a joint using a synthetic cannabinoid called Spice. Photograph: Alamy Synthetic cannabis: New Zealand police issue warning after spate of deaths

Despite being banned in 2014 the drug is still widely available on the black market and has been linked to seven deaths and many hospitalisations

A spate of deaths in New Zealand linked to “zombie drug” synthetic cannabis has prompted the country’s chief coroner and police to issue an urgent public health warning.

In July alone there were at least seven deaths in Auckland which appear to be linked to the use of synthetic cannabis but police said the problem was nation-wide.

Chief coroner Deborah Marshall issued the warning to the public, saying her office had seen seven deaths of people who had recently used synthetic cannabis or were found with the drug on them.

“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,

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