Synthetic cannabis - the infected sore that just won't go away.

The latest victim is a Napier man who slept rough, and reportedly used synthetic cannabis before he was found dead on Wednesday in a carpark off Wellesley Rd.

Yet again the cheap and nasty substance rears its head.

It is a favourite among some of the homeless community on Napier streets because it is a relatively heavy duty hit that is cheap compared with other drugs. But it doesn't just hurt the homeless.


Read more: 'Well-known' synthetic cannabis user dies outside Napier shops
Synthetic cannabis a 'sad indictment' on society

In August a bad batch of synthetic cannabis emerged around Maraenui. Last month, Hawke's Bay police found 97 individual zip-lock bags of synthetic cannabis during a routine traffic stop

Figures released in August showed that between 40 and 45 people died due to synthetic cannabis use in the year ended June 2018.

In the previous five years there were only two confirmed deaths. Clearly, not just Hawke's Bay, but New Zealand has a problem.

There is a sense of deja vu, that links meth or P to synthetic drugs.

P gained a stronghold in New Zealand's criminal and recreational drug using society before communities, regions for that matter, began to take a holistic approach to the problem.

Not only was there a surge in P related crime, the drug caused a cancerous erosion of our health and social service system.

It was only then that a "multi-agency" approach began.


Police are often at the forefront of identifying these trends, but they need help from other social agencies.

Similarly, councils find themselves confronted with social issues that are outside their area of expertise, yet the community looks to mayors and the like as community leaders.

There is little to gain by pushing the synthetic cannabis problem out of town - it might be out of sight but there are still plenty of people out of their minds on synthetic drugs, in the Napier CBD.

It will be interesting to see who puts their hand up as a community leader to drive a combined approach.

Or will we have to wait until a middle classed Pakeha teenager dies after using synthetic cannabis, for that to happen.