Canterbury Health Laboratories set to be first in NZ to test for controversial synthetic cannabis products
Canterbury Health Laboratories (CHL) is on track to being the first laboratory in New Zealand to able to screen for synthetic cannabis product “Kronic” at its toxicology laboratory.
CHL Senior toxicology scientist Grant Moore says CHL is working on developing a method to detect Kronic in urine, which is expected to be available soon.
The next step will be gaining accreditation. This will mean companies using CHL's workplace drug testing service will be able to test for this synthetic substance and depending on their individual health and safety policy, be able to use this information accordingly.
“We are still in the very early stages of being able to do this testing. Hopefully we can achieve this in the coming months, which will mean CHL will be the first laboratory in New Zealand to have this accreditation and the only one in New Zealand able to test for this synthetic compound,” Grant says.
Kronic is marketed as ‘legal weed’ but serious concerns have been raised after emergency departments around the country reported treating increasing numbers of people that have experienced adverse side effects as a result of smoking the product.
Christchurch Hospital Emergency Department specialist Dr Paul Gee says the department has seen a concerning increase in cases arising from the use of ‘legal’ recreational drugs in the past 12 months. Users have been as young as 15 years old.
“Synthetic Cannabinoids are widely available as smoking mixtures and patients have begun to appear in the Emergency Departments with adverse effects,” Dr Gee says.
“There are dozens of synthetic chemicals in this class with some having potencies a hundred times that of botanic marijuana. Caution is advised as these drugs have not been tested for human consumption and safety concerns exist.”
Symptoms may include agitation, confusion, palpitations, drowsiness, seizures and coma.
Associate health minister Peter Dunne last week announced that laws giving the Government the power to curb the sale of synthetic cannabis product will be in place soon.