[ 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 aug 2020 high alert thumbnail

A crucial new harm-reduction tool for New Zealand

A new online harm-reduction tool has been rolled out by Police, Customs and the Ministry of Health, with help from the Drug Foundation

MoS aug 2020 david hanna thumbnail

Q&A: David Hanna

David Hanna is the Director of Wesley Community Action and a champion of community-led solutions including ‘P’ Pull, which grew out of Wait...

MoS aug 2020 wine oclock thumbnail

The wine o'clock myth

Sobriety advocate and author Lotta Dann talks to Ruth Nichol about her new book, how the alcohol industry specifically targets women, and wh...

MoS aug 2020 drinking thumbnail

Happy hour, heavy drinking and hope for the future

In a deeply personal reflection on his childhood and the alcohol-soaked environment he grew up in, Eugene Carnachan describes how drinking i...

DYK stock guys 260x260px

Did You Know

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

Learn more

social graphic subscribe

Subscribe to email updates

Get regular news, analysis and commentary on drug issues in New Zealand. Free.

Sign up now!

Back to top