‘Zom­bie’ chem­i­cal in syn­thetic drugs

Waikato Times - - NEWS - STAFF REPORTER

Au­thor­i­ties are now us­ing the term ‘‘syn­thetic drugs’’ to de­scribe a chem­i­cal-based sub­stance that has claimed about 20 lives in New Zealand in re­cent months.

The deadly prod­uct had been re­ferred to as ‘‘syn­thetic cannabis’’ but a re­newed warn­ing to stay away from the sub­stance has prompted po­lice and health au­thor­i­ties to call it syn­thetic drugs.

Po­lice re­vealed that one of the chem­i­cals in­volved was found to be the ex­tremely dan­ger­ous AMBFUBINACA.

It was found to be be­hind a ‘‘mass ca­su­alty event’’ in New York 2016, where users of the syn­thetic cannabi­noid were left in a ‘‘zom­bie-like state’’.

De­tec­tive In­spec­tor Scott Beard called on the com­mu­nity to tell po­lice who was sell­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing th­ese drugs.

‘‘We need your help to catch th­ese offenders and to hold them to ac­count,’’ Beard said.

‘‘You may have no­ticed that we are not call­ing it syn­thetic cannabis. It is not cannabis.’’

‘‘Each case is a tragedy for the fam­ily and friends of those left be­hind,’’ Chief Coroner Judge Deb­o­rah Mar­shall said.

While many deaths had oc­curred in Auck­land, a num­ber of cases in other parts of New Zealand had also been re­ported to Coro­nial Ser­vices,’’ Judge Mar­shall said.

‘‘[Syn­thetic drugs are] af­fect­ing fam­i­lies and whanau across New Zealand,’’ she said.

‘‘All drug use car­ries risk but syn­thetic drugs are known to cause po­ten­tially fa­tal seizures.

‘‘I urge any­one con­sid­er­ing us­ing this drug not to do so, and for those who are, to reach out to ser­vices that might as­sist them, ‘‘ Mar­shall said.

‘‘We are not call­ing it [syn­thetic drugs] syn­thetic cannabis.’’

Those tak­ing syn­thetic drugs take a ‘‘huge risk’’ be­cause users don’t know what dosage of the ‘‘dan­ger­ous’’, il­le­gal drug they are tak­ing, Mar­shall said.

Beard said po­lice had made a ‘‘sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of seizures and ar­rests’’ and were ‘‘fo­cused on ar­rest­ing those re­spon­si­ble for the sale and sup­ply of this dan­ger­ous drug’’.

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