Drug death toll now 9

Waikato Times Weekend - - NEWS -

A 31-year-old woman found dead at a West Auck­land ad­dress was be­lieved to have been smok­ing syn­thetic cannabis, po­lice say.

Her death is the ninth thought to have been linked to the drug in Auck­land in the past month.

Emer­gency de­part­ments have seen a spike in pa­tients who had used the psy­choac­tive sub­stance.

Many were suf­fer­ing hal­lu­ci­na­tions and seizures lead­ing to car­diac ar­rest.

Act­ing De­tec­tive In­spec­tor Pe­ter Florence said the pub­lic could be as­sured po­lice were tak­ing syn­thetic cannabis harm ‘‘very se­ri­ously’’.

‘‘Po­lice of­fi­cers across the coun­try are con­duct­ing search war­rants and seiz­ing syn­thetic cannabis, and we are con­tin­u­ing to put sup­pli­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers be­fore the courts.’’

Al­though the lat­est vic­tim may have been smok­ing syn­thetic cannabis a short time be­fore her death, there may have been other con­tribut­ing fac­tors, po­lice said.

Ear­lier in July Chief Coro­ner Judge Deb­o­rah Mar­shall is­sued a health warn­ing over es­ca­lat­ing syn­thetic cannabis harm.

‘‘I’ve also been ad­vised 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.

‘‘While the po­lice and coro­nial in­ves­ti­ga­tions are still at an early stage ... the num­ber of cases where syn­thetic cannabis ap­pear to have been a con­tribut­ing fac­tor [to the death] has prompted me to is­sue this pub­lic warn­ing,’’ Mar­shall said.

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