'A nasty problem': 'Zombie' synthetic drugs a worry but not a 'crisis', says Associate Health Minister




Peter Dunne says that while incidents of adverse reactions to synthetic drugs happen from time to time, there's nothing to suggest there's a new epidemic hitting New Zealand.

The comments come after three men were filmed high on what's thought to be a synthetic cannabis drug near a New Lynn playground.

The disturbing footage, posted to Facebook yesterday, shows two men slumped on a park bench and another lying on his back rigid and foaming at the mouth, until a passer-by rolls him onto his side.

The three men were thought to be high on synthetic cannabis, known as the 'zombie drug', and were understood to be at Rata Village in West Auckland's New Lynn, during daylight. 

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne, who campaigned against synthetic drugs in the past, said while the footage is worrying, there is not an epidemic in New Zealand.

"While they have been sporadic outbursts, they haven't been sufficiently large to suggest that the whole thing's gone underground," he said.

"I think it's just a little bit of stuff that pops up from time to time ... it's not good, and I don't condone it in any way ... but I don't think we have a crisis on our hands."

Mr Dunne said synthetic drugs had the potential to be very damaging to people and was cause for concern for anyone who knew someone taking it.

"I don’t think it's becoming more widespread [but] it's certainly a nasty problem," he said.

"I think this stuff is awful ... if anyone's affected by it they really need to get to their local alcohol and drug centre as quickly as possible."

Senior Sergeant Richard Thompson from the Waitakere Police told 1 NEWS NOW they have reviewed the footage and have been unable to identify the men to carry out a welfare check on them.

"We will be conducting patrols in the area today and making inquiries to establish the identity of the people seen in the video, to check on their health," Mr Thompson said.

Yesterday Patea Jandallz wrote on the video post that it was "synthetics smoking at its dumbest".

"School holidays and of all places the play ground where the surrounding kids and my own choose to play," Mr Jandallz wrote. 

"Lucky me and the uso Jerome saw what was happening and rushed to check if the punk on the ground was okay after seeing him foaming up."

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In the background of the video residential properties can be seen and what sounds like children playing can also be heard. 

The video has been viewed more than 157,000 times since yesterday and has been shared more than 1000 times. 

The police are unable to confirm what substances the men in the video may have taken.

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