Carnarvon police made the discovery at a Brockman home, in Western Australia’s Gascoyne region, on Sunday afternoon, after receiving a report from a concerned neighbour.
Senior Sergeant Jayd Morawski said a number of people who were adversely affected by the drug were then found at five other nearby homes.
“Police located a number of people who were unconscious or semiconscious and were informed that these people had inhaled or smoke a substance that they believe was a synthetic cannabinoid,” Senior Sergeant Morawski said.
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“They were all at one house, they felt an ill effect, and then some left that address and went back to their varying home addresses.”
The boys, aged between 11 and 19, ”were coming out of the house screaming and throwing themselves on the ground and had that zombie look on them and spewing,” Cyril Baumgarten, who lives next door to the house, told ABC News.
Ms Baumgarten and another neighbour, Buffy Kempton, were among the first to find the boys in a state of distress.
“There’s one young boy that took five boys to hold him down, he was going berserk,” Ms Baumgarten said.
“The youngest boy of it all, 11 years old, he collapsed in the house next door to us and there was one young boy that was inside the house and he was unconscious as well.”
Senior Sergeant Morawski said police were now working closely with the Department of Health on the investigation, and that the substance the boys ingested was sold in packets and resembled “plant-based materials”.
Police/ Dept of Health are investigating an incident in Carnarvon on 9/2/20. @CarnarvonPol and @stjohn_wa located a number of unconscious/ semi- conscious people who’d inhaled a substance they believed was synthetic cannabis. If you have any info please contact CrimeStoppers. #fb
— Carnarvon Police (@CarnarvonPol) February 11, 2020
“Police are of the belief that the substances used are unregulated and believed to contain an unknown psychoactive substance which can cause serious health issues,” she said.
Ms Kempton said that they were unsure at first what had happened to the boys.
“It was very, very frightening knowing me and my husband have kids around the same age … it was very emotional at the time,” she told ABC News.
She urged the community to take a hard stance against illicit drug use.
“Parents need to start pulling their heads in, knowing where their children are, what they are doing, where they are at night and start dobbing in drug dealers,” she said.
“We don’t need to be frightened of them – this is our community and we need to start talking up for our kids and talking up for Carnarvon otherwise our kids are going to get hurt.”
While the recent cluster of overdoses appear to be an “isolated incident” with all victims known to each other, Senior Sergeant Morawski issued a similar plea.
“People are urged to avoid consumption of these substances,” she said.
Police are yet to charge anyone over the incident.