Legal highs approved for sale are being linked to vomiting, hysteria and numbness.
Calls to the National Poison Centre reveal people have suffered seizures, severe kidney failure and "running around madly" after smoking synthetic cannabis.
Many of the more severe reports are linked to now- banned brands, such as K2, Kryptonite and Kronic.
Other bad reactions involve brands given interim approval by the Ministry of Health for legal sale, including AK47, which one person said left a niece hysterical and gasping for breath. Most reports simply record "synthetic cannabis" as the offending drug.
The reports were released by the ministry under the Official Information Act, and cover this year until August.
The manager of the ministry's Psychoactive Substances Regulatory Authority, Donald Hannah, said most of the reported ill-effects were linked to now-banned brands and coincided with a surge in publicity around tighter restrictions.
Reported ill-effects after smoking approved brands, such as Anarchy and AK47, were minor and did not justify banning them outright, he said.
Law changes imposed in July have restricted the sale of legal highs to specialist shops, with only brands proved to be "low risk" granted interim approval to be legally sold.
The interim licences were short term while the ministry developed a more rigorous testing regime.
However, the released report showed that calls to the National Poison Centre rose after the restrictions were imposed, with a spike in July and August.
The poison centre said that, in August alone, 31 people reported "adverse clinical effects" from synthetic cannabis, including comas, aggressive behaviour and psychosis.
Some legal highs had also been licensed despite no clear information on what chemicals they contained. "Products that have been approved for legal sale have descriptions that are meaningless."
There was also uncertainty among officials about how to classify new psychoactive chemicals being used in synthetic cannabis, some of which were completely unknown.
Poison centre toxicologist Leo Schep said legal-high brands had been approved despite known links to bad reactions and unidentified ingredients.
The ministry was doing its best to assess the risk with limited information and unknown chemicals. "At the moment, we don't know. We have these products approved for sale but we just don't know what is in them."
Paul Quigley, emergency medicine specialist for the Capital & Coast District Health Board, said that since the restrictions, there had been a drop in people admitted to emergency departments after smoking synthetic cannabis.
While there appeared to be fewer, less dangerous products available, that did not mean all approved legal highs were safe, he said.
"It is still 'buyer beware' out there, even if we are in a better position than we were."
Grant Hall, of legal high group Star Trust, said there was still uncertainty about some brands, but most now were low risk. Reported ill-effects had been caused by misuse and mixing with other drugs or alcohol.
In the eight months to August, dozens of people have reported experiencing ill- effects from synthetic cannabis.
LOWS GETTING HIGH
BANNED OR DISCONTINUED BRANDS
K2: Anxiety, "death experience", seizures, diarrhoea, hot sweats.
Kryptonite: Kidney failure, hallucinations, vomiting, chest pains.
Juicy Puff: Unconsciousness, seizures.
Anarchy: Vomiting, paleness, numbness in one arm.
AK47: Gasping, hysteria, yelling, agitation.
Karma: Anxiety, confusion, tremors.
Voodoo: "Running around like mad", rapid heartbeat, hot flushes.
Un-named synthetic cannabis: Abnormal liver, insomnia, chest pains, heavy gasping, aggression, vomiting.;
Pdf from NZ ministry of health with the ingredients (alleged) and risk assessment for each product. Quite useful
The kidney failure seems to be linked to 4-fluoro-am2201(sgt-19) or adb-chica (sgt-7)
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Legal highs link to vomiting, hysteria and kidney failure (cannabinoids)