Police have released a warning about the dangers of synthetic cannabis in light of the reported deaths linked to the illegal drug in Auckland this month.

Yesterday Eastern District police posted on their Facebook page that synthetic cannabis was "just as big a problem in Hawke's Bay" as other centres and warned residents of these home-made "synnies".

District prevention manager Inspector Andy Sloan said police were aware some people in the area were engaging in the supply and manufacture of these products and there were active investigations targeting these people.

"Local sellers have told us they are using dried herbs [from the supermarket] and spraying them with kitchen spray cleaner and adding a dose of rat poison. Horse tranquiliser is also being used in some batches. It's relatively cheap and easy to get," the post said.


Clinical director of the emergency department at Hawke's Bay Hospital Dr Mark Barlow said the effects of synthetic cannabis were incredibly toxic and had previously been seen in the hospital when synthetic cannabis was a legal high before legislation changed and required suppliers to prove it was safe to use.

"Certainly we were seeing behavioural changes in terms of people becoming agitated and aggressive, sometimes paranoid thinking people were talking about them or out to get them,

"We also saw a number of presentations with seizures with people who didn't have epilepsy or a known seizure disorder so obviously the chemical was having some effect on the brain to cause seizure activity."

A Springhill Treatment Centre supervisor said synthetic drugs in all forms were very addictive and advised people not to touch it or smoke it.

The centre had not noticed an increase in the number of admissions at this stage.

However Mr Sloan said police had seen a rise in the number of people who had suffered health-related issues but not on the same scale as in Auckland.

Dr Barlow also said Hawke's Bay wasn't seeing anything like what had been reported in Auckland in relation to synthetic cannabis.

"I think the issues they [the police] have with the product are valid. I just don't think we are seeing very many presentations relating to synthetic cannabis recently.

"We certainly haven't had any deaths related to synthetic cannabis and we're certainly not seeing anything like the presentation numbers that they're referring to in Auckland."

Police said their message for any locals using synthetic cannabis was, "don't", because they had already seen a rise in the number of people who had suffered health related issues.

"You are basically putting poison straight into your body. This is a major community problem that is affecting many families (especially young people) and we need you to help us spread the message amongst your mates and whanau about what this stuff does to people. It's not cool and it's not trendy. It's deadly."

Central Hawke's Bay vet Mary Flemmer said animal products such as horse tranquiliser were not made for human use and could have profound effects if taken.

"For a start you would overdose as a horse is 500kg compared to a human at 80-100kg and we are different species so we react differently."

Ms Flemmer said she was surprised people were getting their hands on horse tranquiliser because it was a restricted drug.

"We only give it to people we know and animals that we know, it is not something you just hand out to anyone, so we certainly haven't seen a rise in the number of sales of the product."

Napier mayor Bill Dalton's message to the people of Hawke's Bay was to protect their families so they weren't ruined by the people who made these drugs.

"These people don't care about what they are doing to society and to the health of others, all they care about is making money through the lives they are destroying."

Acting Hastings deputy mayor Simon Nixon said people needed to keep their eyes open and report any suspicious or weird behaviour so any major casualties could be prevented.

If people know of someone using these products or selling them, report it to the local police station or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.