31st August 2018, Volume 131 Number 1481

Chris Wilkins, Marta Rychert

The deaths of up to 45 people linked to synthetic cannabinoids in New Zealand in the past year raise important questions about how to respond to these new synthetic drugs.1…

Subscriber content

The full contents of this page is only available to subscribers.

To view this content please login or subscribe

Author Information

Chris Wilkins, SHORE & Whariki Research Centre Massey University, Auckland;
Marta Rychert, SHORE & Whariki Research Centre Massey University, Auckland.


Associate Professor Chris Wilkins, SHORE & Whariki Research Centre Massey University, P.O. Box 6137, Wellesley Street, Auckland 1141, Auckland.

Correspondence Email


Competing Interests



  1. New Zealand Herald. Cabinet concern over spike in synthetic cannabis deaths, 30 July, 2018. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12098000
  2. New Zealand Drug Foundation. We should have known. Matters of Substance. October 17, 2017, p.6–13. Accessed 6th August 2018
  3. United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC). World Drug Report 2017: Market analysis of synthetic drugs. United Nations publication. 
  4. European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). European Drug Report 2018: Trends and Developments. 2018. Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg
  5. Adams AJ, Banister SD, Irizarry L, Trecki J, Schwartz M, Gerona R. “Zombie” Outbreak caused by the synthetic cannabinoid AMB-FUBINACA in New York. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2017; 376:235–42.
  6. Gray R, Bressington D, Hughes E, Ivanecka A. A systemic review of the effects of novel psychoactive substances ‘legal highs’ on people with severe mental illness. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 2016. Jun; 23(5):267–81. 
  7. Wilkins C, Prasad J, Wong KC, Graydon-Guy T, Rychert M. An exploratory study of the health harms and utilisation of health services of frequent legal high users under the interim regulated legal high market in central Auckland. N Z Med J 2016; 129(1431).
  8. Wilkins C, Prasad J, Romeo JS, Rychert M. (2017). Recent trends in illegal drug use in New Zealand, 2006–2016: Findings from the Illicit Drug Monitoring System, December 2017. Auckland: Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation (SHORE), College of Health, Massey University. 
  9. Wilkins C, Prasad J, Moewaka Barnes H, Romeo J, Rychert M. New Zealand Arrestee Drug Use Monitoring Programme Report (NZ-ADUM): 2016 Report. June-December, 2017. Auckland: Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation (SHORE), College of Health, Massey University.
  10. Mdege N, Meader N, Lloyd C, Parrott S, McCambridge J. The Novel Psychoactive Substances in the UK project: empirical and conceptual review work to produce research recommendations. Public Health Research, Vol 5 (4), June 2017. National Institute for Health Research. Accessed 6th August 2018. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0095704/pdf/PubMedHealth_PMH0095704.pdf
  11. New Zealand Police. Joint statement from the Chief Coroner’s office and Police on the significant number of synthetic cannabis related deaths in Auckland. 21 July 2017. Accessed 3rd August 2018. http://www.police.govt.nz/news/release/joint-statement-chief-coroners-office-and-police-significant-number-synthetic-cannabis
  12. Rychert M, Wilkins C. A critical analysis of the implementation of a legal regulated market for new psychoactive substances (“legal highs”) in New Zealand. International Journal of Drug Policy. 2018; 55:88–94.
  13. Lai F, Wilkins C, Thai P, Mueller J. An exploratory wastewater analysis study of drug use in Auckland, New Zealand. Drug and Alcohol Review, 2017. published online 12 March, doi: 10.1111/dar.12509 [Abstract]. A404
  14. Canadian Centre on Substance Use. Canadian Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (CCENDU). 2018. Accessed 3rd August 2018. http://www.ccdus.ca/Eng/collaboration/CCENDU/Pages/default.aspx


The downloadable PDF version of this article is only available to subscribers.

To view this content please login or subscribe