A coroner has found the death of an Auckland woman was partially caused by using synthetic cannabis.
The body of 40-year-old Esther Lemalama was discovered in her Kelston home by her husband on 15 November 2018.
Her husband, Tutolu Iona, came home from work about 5.30pm to find her lying on the floor of their bedroom with her head down between the bed, wall and a column heater.
Emergency services were called and Lemalama was pronounced dead at 6.17pm.
Coroner Erin Woolley found Lemalama’s death was due to using synthetic drugs and the position she was in, which lead to asphyxia.
A post-mortem blood sample found the presence of hydroxyrisperidone, an antipsychotic drug used to treat chronic schizophrenia, in her system.
The test also found AMB-FUBINACA acid, which is consistent with the use of synthetics.
Lemalama had a history of using synthetic drugs, the coroner’s report said.
In 2017, Lemalama disclosed to mental health services that she used synthetic cannabis, and she was referred to a drugs service for counselling.
The coroner found Lemalama died from ‘positional asphyxia due to synthetic cannabinoid intoxication’.
“Unfortunately, Ms Lemalama’s death appears, in part, to be due to her consumption of synthetic cannabis.
“The synthetic drugs, AMB-FUBINACA and 5F-ADB, have been the cause or contributing factor in a number of deaths in both the Waikato/Bay of Plenty, elsewhere in New Zealand, and overseas,” she said.
Woolley said the quantity and strength of AMB-FUBINACA and 5F-ADB is an unknown gamble which can have fatal consequences.
The coroner repeated recommendations from a previous coronial inquiry to prevent future deaths from synthetic cannabis.
“An all-encompassing harm reduction approach which reduces demand, supply and easy access to treatment for those seeking assistance should be developed,” Wolley said.