Hawke's Bay police have warned locals of the dangers of synthetic cannabis in Hawke's Bay in light of reports eight people have died after using the illegal drug in Auckland this month.
This afternoon, police confirmed synthetic cannabis is "just as big a problem in Hawke's Bay" as other parts of New Zealand.
Emergency services, including St Johns and the Hawke's Bay Hospital, were regularly dealing with people suffering from the effects of the drug, they said.
Police said it could cause fitting, hallucinations, comas, long-term brain damage and even death.
"There is a lot of home-made 'synnies' circulating at the moment and it's dangerous stuff.
"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."
Police said their message for any locals using synthetic cannabis was, "DON'T".
"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.