In an effort to deter people from using synthetic marijuana, officials in New Zealand have released a video depicting the deadly effects of the drug.
The 33-second video, put out Friday by the Counties Manukau Police, illustrates “how human beings turn into zombies,” according to the New York Post.
The video shows footage from an incident in the New Zealand city of Auckland several months ago in which the police said “a male was violently ill and could barely stand after smoking synthetic cannabis.”
The potentially deadly drug has killed seven people in Auckland this month, prompting officials to issue a public warning about the effects of synthetic cannabis, which is illegal.
According to Chief Coroner Deborah Marshall, it is believed that each of the seven used synthetic marijuana recently before dying. Synthetic marijuana was found in several of the bodies.
“I’ve also been advised by St. John that there have been a significant number of non-fatal cases where people have been hospitalized after using the drug, which is known to cause potentially fatal seizures,” Marshall said.
Tony Smith, medical director at St. John, a New Zealand medical organization, said that on consecutive days last week, ambulance officers responded to at least 20 cannabis-related incidents.
“If we don’t do something about this, further people are going to die,” Detective Inspector Gary Lendrum said at a press conference Friday.
“It is a dangerous, illegal substance and we will arrest those who are selling this harmful drug and place them before the courts,” he added.
Lendrum said that his officers are coming across “people unable to walk, vomiting, they’re lying in their own vomit in the street, they’re taking off their clothes, it’s having a major effect on the chemicals in their brain.”
“We have grave concerns as users don’t know what poisonous chemicals they are potentially putting into their bodies when they’re smoking this drug.”
Devonte Pierce, 17, died after doing a “spot” of synthetic cannabis earlier in July, according to his best friend, 18-year-old Trey Patterson of West Auckland. Patterson said the drug is easier to buy than normal marijuana and can be purchased on the streets relatively easily.
“It makes me heartbroken and angry, I used to smoke that stuff,” Patterson said. “Knowing he died of it, I want to stop everybody selling it and stop it getting on the street.”
Dr. Paul Quigley, an emergency medicine specialist at Wellington Hospital, said that one drag of synthetic cannabis could have the equivalent effect of smoking 15 marijuana cigarettes.
“These drugs are insidious. Let the message be that the consequences of these drugs can be incredibly tragic,” Police Minister Paula Bennett said in a statement. (For more from the author of “After Seven Deaths Reported, New Zealand Officials Warn Public of Dangers of Synthetic Marijuana” please click HERE)