‘Drugs’ sales risk $1m fine

Shops still selling synthetic drugs face fines of up to $1 million under a national ban imposed after the death of a NSW teenager while high on an LSD-like drug bought online.

Fremantle shops are flouting the 120-day ban on 19 synthetic drugs which cannot be sold over the counter. They include Buddha Express, Atomic Bomb and Super Skunk.

Adult shops sell it under the counter at discount prices. Before the ban was introduced, users paid $65 for a three gram packet. They now sell for $100 for two packets, or six grams.

“We can’t keep them on the shelves,” one shopkeeper admitted to the Herald.

“But our supplier is preparing a new batch because of demand. The ban has meant we have had to get rid of at least $10,000 worth of stock.”

Banned on June 9 were synthetic drugs including White Revolver, Ash Inferno, Kyote, K2, Black Widow, Kronic, Vortex Inferno, Herbal Incense, Tropic Thunder and Circus Deluxe.

Manufacturers are tweaking chemical contents and relabelling products so they’re not on the banned list, but anyone caught selling banned products will be prosecuted under consumer laws which prevent synthetic drugs being sold on the basis they are a health risk.

While shops say they expect a visit by the police, users continue to pop in to stock up.

One buyer the Herald spotted was a Fremantle council parking inspector who did not seem concerned about the ban as he stopped in to pocket a couple of packets before continuing to work. He’d also been spotted in the same shop buying up the synthetic drugs a week before the ban came in.

Construction and mining workers are also buying the largely undetectable drugs (“Workers syn stoned?” Herald, June 22, 2013).

The ban was imposed after the death of Sydney 17-year-old Henry Kwan who, believing he could fly, plunged to his death from a balcony after consuming a then-legal LSD substitute he’d bought online.

Two weeks ago in the Hunter region of NSW, a man used pliers to remove his teeth which he said he didn’t want in his head any more. Paramedics in Orange, NSW, were called recently to help a woman in her mid 20s who suffered irregular heartbeat and stopped breathing after consuming synthetic marijuana.

In a separate incident, a woman near Maitland had such an adverse reaction she stabbed herself several times with a knife, almost severing her arm.

Paramedics in the Hunter, regarded as one of Australia’s hot spots for synthetic drugs, also raised concerns over the impact on people with mental health problems.

Describing the impact of over-the-counter drugs as, “like pouring Drano into your brain”, they say there has been a steep rise in mental health cases linked to synthetics.

Synthetic marijuana is a mixture of dried herbal plants sprayed with chemicals that mimic the effects of the active ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol.

It can be bought online for as little as $15 for three grams.

by CARMELO AMALFI

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