The synthetic drug crisis

Killer chemicals – Inside NZ’s synthetic cannabis crisis

At least 20 people have died after smoking synthetic cannabis, but where is the community outrage and Government action plan?

In part one of a two-part series, we reveal the human toll of a killer drug.

Anika used to enjoy making art, before she became a slave to synthetic cannabis.

Then all she cared about was finding money to buy “synnies”.

She’s only 21, yet death stalked her.

Her friend, Michael, says: “I describe it as a zombie drug because the actual description of a zombie is the walking dead – they die, get up and they start hunting food.”

Where is the public outcry?

Ironically the current situation has come about because of a public outcry over the sale of synthetics after a law change to try and bring them under control, so the Government backed down.

This may have avoided becoming an election issue because all parties may be in part culpable.

Ducking for cover lest they lose some votes (losing lives doesn’t seem to be as important to them).


Leave a comment


  1. David

     /  16th September 2017

    I would go American on it, if you sell synthetic drugs and someone dies you are up on a murder charge.

    • It will be interesting to see what charges eventuate here: Significant arrests made in relation to supply of synthetic drugs

      Police have made a number of “significant” arrests after seizing synthetic drugs with a street value of $1.5 million.

      Some of the drugs included the deadly AMB-FUBINACA chemical, linked to around 20 deaths in New Zealand this year.

      Detective Inspector John Sutton​ said police had been working on a background investigation for a month, following a breakthrough interception by customs.

      Following the most significant raid in Rodney, a 58-year-old man will appear in the North Shore District Court next Wednesday on multiple charges – including importing, manufacturing and supplying psychoactive substances.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  16th September 2017

        At 58, he should be even more ashamed of himself-he ought to know better.

        I would think that it could be easier to go for manslaughter; more chance of a conviction. Murder means that the person did it knowing that the result WOULD be a death. I don’t think that they use the term ‘manslaughter’ in the US, but the crime is probably the same,.

        There has been a public outcry, but one can’t keep this up indefinitely.And if people will use these drugs, they must take some responsibility for their own actions. Nobody can not know about the deaths. There has been a huge amount of publicity about this.

        If enough dealers are given massive prison terms, it might put others off.

        It’s appalling to accuse politicians of want ing votes more than they want to save lives. There is no evidence of this. What can they do ? The two things have no connection with each other, so it’s a senseless accusation. If, as this person says, it’s ‘politicians’ then it must be those of all parties, so it makes even less sense Who would base their vote upon that anyway ? Sellers and dealers ? What would politicians have to gain ?

        • Kevin

           /  17th September 2017

          I suspect he had no idea what he was doing. He saw an opportunity and wanted to make some quick cash. I seriously doubt that he thought what he was doing would kill people.

          What he should have done is tried it out on himself first. Of course he would have ended up killing himself but one person is a lot better than twenty.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  17th September 2017

            I find it hard to believe that he didn’t watch the news or read a paper all the time that the first lot of deaths and medical emergencies were being reported.

            I don’t know how anyone could take the risk of selling such stuff when they could sell ordinary drugs, still make money and not risk being charged with manslaughter.

  2. Kevin

     /  16th September 2017

    Ironically Dunne has been proven right when he said the banning synthetic cannabis would lead to deaths. The problem is lack of regulation. This kind of killer synthetic cannabis would never have made it past the Psychoactive Substances Act even when synthetic cannabis was legal and ironicall (again) there would have been no incentive for dealers to manufacture and push the deadly stuff.

    I’m not saying no one would have died. But it would have been a lot less.

  3. Dunne said ‘synthetics were low risk.. but natural herb was not’ (paraphrased) when he introduced the Psychoactive substance act. Maybe he needs to be held to account for this situation.. the cops still seem to be treating the herb as ‘public enemy #1’ but not these poisons ?!

    On TV3 ‘the Project’ yesterday; they talked about ‘AMB Fubinaca’ which was apparently created by a Big Pharma drug company. It is 100x stronger than THC. They said its like drinking a glass of wine (THC) or 16 whole bottles (synthetic). It was later rejected due to ‘severe side effects’ & yet it still being imported & sold in NZ as ‘synthetic cannabis’ (NOT)

    Surely its time they pull their heads out & accept that Natural herb is the safer alternative; >20 deaths annually from synthetics Vs ZERO deaths from natural cannabis.. “WAKE UP Natz your zero-tolerance approach is total B-S !” sez I&I 😦

  4. Just Darwin’s law working as it should.

  5. NOEL

     /  16th September 2017

    Interesting read at

    Click to access 02_whole.pdf


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