[ Skip to main content ]

Ben Birks-Ang explains what new psychoactive substances are and why they are potentially very dangerous.

Dear media: In the stampede to get the story out first, please check your facts.

Today, the Chief Coroner and Police issued a statement labelling “synthetic cannabis” as the culprit behind seven deaths this past month, at the same time releasing harmful video footage of vulnerable people suffering the effects.

Speculation is rife in the media. Stuff.co.nz quotes Police Detective Inspector Gary Lendrum as saying there has been a recent spike in synthetic cannabis use, and “further people are going to die” if something isn’t done about it.

Trouble is, nobody actually knows what happened yet.

According to a St John’s spokesman, they don’t know for sure what drugs people were taking – “it’s just been labelled synthetic cannabis”.

There has been some speculation among health officials that the synthetic opiod fentanyl may have been involved.

Here’s one fact: Synthetic cannabis is only one subset within a larger group of over 600 different new psychoactive substances.

Our informative video above explains what psychoactive substances are and why they are potentially very harmful. Our website also has more specific information about synthetic cannabis and cathinones (bath salts), plus a section on staying safer.

It’s also worth checking out Russell Brown’s concerned but still more measured approach in his Hard News blog.

Share:

Related See more

MoS nov 2019 thumbnail samuel

Sensational sex-and-drugs story sparks research interest

Back in 2016, a provocative Newshub headline introduced middle New Zealand to the existence of “drug-fuelled sex binges” known as chemsex. N...

Thumb sunnies

Synthetic cannabinoids: How to help

If someone is experiencing a synthetic cannabinoid overdose, their life may depend on your actions. Here's what to do.

MoS july 2019 thumbnail drug checking

To test or not to test? That was the question …

Otago University Students Association chief executive Debbie Downs tells how she came around to the idea of introducing checking of recreati...

MoS july 2019 thumbnail butain oil

Strength and harm - the uncertain cannabis equation

Some cannabis is becoming stronger as producers refine their methods and product. How can a legal market manage potency and offer safe consi...

e substance newsletter promotional thumbnail

Sign-up for email updates

The latest New Zealand drug news, analysis and updates from us.

Subscribe now

Did You Know resources thumbnail

Did You Know

Conversation tools for parents, caregivers and youth workers to help your young person make safer decisions about drugs.

Learn more

Back to top