Workers syn stoned?

Hard-hat workers amongst ‘best customers’ for hard-to-detect drugs.

CONSTRUCTION and mining workers are using largely undetectable mind-altering synthetic drugs bought over the counter in Fremantle.

A local seller at an adult shop confirmed hard-hat workers were some of his best customers for brands such as Buddha Express, Atomic Bomb and Super Skunk.

He was busy clearing price-reduced stocks following the start of a 120-day national ban at midnight Wednesday.

The ban on 19 syns was imposed after the death of Sydney teenager Henry Kwan who—convinced he could fly—leapt from his balcony after taking fake LSD bought online.

“I warn buyers not to use it at work, and use it at home,” the seller, who wants to remain anonymous, told the Herald.

“You don’t want to be driving or using machinery on this stuff.”

Jason Keogh, a senior consultant with O’Connor-based drug testing laboratory RISC, told the Herald that not all syns—including those that mimic LSD and marijuana—can be screened for.

“Only the metabolites or components making up the synthetic drugs are detected.”

He adds few companies screen for synthetic drugs even though their use is growing in WA. Companies were now cottoning on, and already some blue-chip employers screen workers for syns in critical jobs.

Mr Keogh says instant screening kits using a urine sample are relatively cheap at $10-$15 a pop, while more comprehensive lab tests are up to $140.

The state-run testing laboratory ChemCentre told the Herald companies in WA are increasingly asking for synthetic drugs to be screened for in workers’ urine, blood and saliva samples.

Spokesman Sarah Lau says it is difficult to identify the chemical ingredients and their concentration in different synthetic drugs.

But she says they can be detected, including the parent chemical and the substances or metabolites it breaks down into.

The ChemCentre each year receives thousands of samples seized by police, Customs and the coroner’s office and collected as part of regular drugs testing at WA workplaces.

Murdoch University pharmacology lecturer Ian Mullaney says though the cannabinoid-like drugs act on the same brain receptors to get a high, they often are more potent.

He is also concerned over the long- term impacts these unlabelled drugs can have, such as psychosis and hallucinatory flashbacks.

The temporary ban on syns comes at a time of booming trade in Fremantle (‘It’s syn city’, Herald, June 15, 2013).

“Synthetic drugs are dangerous substances that can kill and should not be available for sale,” federal Labor minister David Bradbury said at the weekend.


A very different beast to weed
“I WAS fucked, I was absolutely fucked.
“I collapsed, [my friends] had to carry me back to the car. I was non compos mentis (not of sound mind) for two hours.
“It was like being drunk on a bad acid trip.”
A regular Herald reader (who wishes to remain anonymous) tried the synthetic drug Atomic Bomb that he purchased at a Perth adult store.
The residual fogginess “lasted a week” he recalls.
He’d smoked some weed in his time but smoking a fingernail-sized piece of synthetic drug packaged as herbal incense knocked him for six.
Most are labelled “pot-pourri” and “burning incense” and come with nudge-nudge wink-wink warnings they’re not for human consumption.
Our source warns experimenters that lab-grade synthetic drugs are a very different beast than traditional mull.

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