‘Zombie’ cannabis in New Zealand
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 nationwide.
Chief coroner Deborah Marshall said her office had seen that number of people who had recently used synthetic cannabis or were found with the drug on them. “I’ve also been advised by St John [Ambulance] 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.”
An emergency medicine specialist at Wellington hospital, Dr Paul Quigley, told the New Zealand Herald a single roll-up made with synthetic cannabis is equivalent to 15 cannabis joints.
“Synthetic cannabis is one of the more dangerous products around and is responsible for some immediate health harms,” he said.