The Honourable Paul Lucas
New laws to stop the sale of synthetic drugs
Individuals selling synthetic cannabis in Queensland will no longer be able to circumvent laws prohibiting their sale by changing the ingredients in the product.
Attorney General Paul Lucas said amendments to the Drugs Misuse Act introduced to Parliament yesterday would allow authorities to charge someone with selling a banned substance even if key ingredients had changed to circumvent laws.
Mr Lucas said current laws meant substances were illegal if it could be proved that they actually had a similar effect to banned substances on Schedule 2 of the Drugs Misuse Regulation.
He said people selling substances on Schedule 2 of the Drugs Misuse Regulation could face a maximum of between 15 years and 20 years in jail but proving the effect could involve lengthy scientific processes.
The amendments will allow authorities to charge a person with supply of a dangerous drug if the substance is not on the banned list but is intended to have the same effect as a banned substance, Mr Lucas said.
"In recent times, there has been much media attention on products like Kronic which are cannabinoids intended to have the same effect as marijuana," Mr Lucas said.
"The Government has been making moves to ban cannabinoids, with three added the list of banned substances in September and the Government continuing to investigate if another 19 should be added, but in the past, people have attempted to circumvent these laws.
"Brands like Kronic have historically changed the ingredients that are used to manufacture the substance.
"Proving that the new product actually has the same effect as other banned cannabanoids can be difficult and take a long time meaning products are in the shops and on sale while scientific evidence is gathered.
"What this amendment means is that authorities only have to prove that the producer as little as intends for the product to have the same effect as a banned substance before a person can be charged and face the same stiff penalties.
"As Kronic is intended to have the same effect as other banned substances, the sale of Kronic will be effectively banned and no changing the chemicals that make it up will change that."
Mr Lucas said synthetic drugs had very complex chemical compositions.
"Drug cooks can make slight changes which technically make it a different drug even though it is intended to have the same effect," Mr Lucas said.
"Rather than let criminals set the agenda, this puts police one step ahead of the game and the health of young Queenslanders susceptible to taking drugs so much better off."
Mr Lucas it was important strong controls were in place from both a health and law and order perspective.
"These amendments will make it easier for authorities to act when substances have one aim and one aim only and that's to mimic the effects of illegal drugs," Mr Lucas said.
"Illegal drugs can have enormous impacts on society, in people's families and in the workplace.
"The consequences of synthetic drug use can have similar impacts.
"That's why we're making these amendments."
More than 380 drugs are currently listed in Schedule 2 of the Drugs Misuse Regulation meaning they are illegal to use in Queensland unless prescribed by a doctor or otherwise authorised by law.