Cannabis warning after man’s death

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THE shock death of a Chelsea Heights man after smoking synthetic cannabis has prompted police to warn of potential life-threatening reactions to the drug.

Their comments also follow a raid on a Frankston tobacconist which found packages containing plant matter thought to be the drug.

The man, 34, died at a Patterson Lakes house on Friday 14 November after smoking the drug with a friend.

Sergeant Leo Raso, of Kingston police, said the man became severely dehydrated and began drinking large quantities of water from an outside tap. Returning inside he went into a bathroom and forced his mouth over another tap and began drinking copiously again.

The force of the water swelled his face to such an extent that the tap became lodged in his throat, Sergeant Raso said.

A friend tried to assist by pulling the tap off the sink and the man fell to the floor unconscious.

Ambulance officers who worked on the man for an hour were unable to revive him.

Elsewhere, detectives from the Frankston divisional response unit recently seized a quantity of what is believed to be synthetic cannabis from a Karingal Hub tobacconist.

Plain clothes detectives searched the Free Choice tobacconist following a tip off and found packages containing plant matter thought to be synthetic cannabis. The seized substance will be forensically tested to determine its chemical composition.

Detective Sergeant Paul Busuttil said it was vital anyone considering using synthetic cannabinoids understood that the drugs had most likely not been through rigorous testing prior to human consumption.

“They have not been produced within a regulated environment and purities and quantities will not be standardised or regulated,” he said.

“People purchasing synthetic cannabinoids will have no way of accurately knowing what they are purchasing and consuming – most importantly, whether it is safe.”

Dozens of people have been hospitalised after consuming products containing synthetic cannabinoids that are marketed and sold under a variety of brand names of differing chemical composition.

Earlier this year, five people were admitted to intensive care units suffering symptoms including loss of consciousness, seizures, agitation, confusion and breathing difficulties after smoking a subsequently banned brand of synthetic cannabis.

Ten brands of synthetic cannabis are banned for sale and consumption in Victoria, however, new versions continue to appear on the market, with suppliers altering their chemical composition to circumvent laws.

Anyone with information about the sale of synthetic cannabis can call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

First published in the Frankston Times

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