Synthetic cannabis seems to be a public health problem everywhere.

By A.J Herrington

The coroner’s office in New Zealand has seen a spike in deaths caused by synthetic marijuana, according to local media. In the past year, the island nation has seen 40-45 deaths of people who had used synthetic marijuana. There was only one death from the illicit substance in the previous five years.

St. John Ambulance reported that it receives approximately 30 calls per week to help people suffering from ill effects of the drug.

Dr. Tony Smith of St. John Hospital warned in May of this year that emergency room doctors had noticed a jump in patients who had used synthetic marijuana over the previous few months. They had also noticed a change in symptoms in those afflicted.

“Predominantly last year we were seeing a lot of patients with seizures or convulsions and this year we’re seeing very little of that,” Smith said. “So we think something about the mixture of chemicals has changed between last year and this year.”

Smith also described how recent patients have reacted to the synthetic marijuana now being seen in New Zealand.

“Most commonly patients become unconscious,” he said. “They often have very poor breathing. And as they regain consciousness, it’s common for them to appear very confused, agitated and often violent. Between people but also potentially violent towards our own staff.”