Federal bans on eight synthetic cannabinoid products announced by the federal Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Catherine King today, were irresponsible and against expert opinion in other parts of the world. The Eros Association which represents producers and distributors of the products, said that at the announcement of the bans there was approximately a tonne of legal stock held by retailers in Australia worth in the vicinity of $2.5 million.
Eros CEO Fiona Patten said that no one had contacted her organisation about whether the bans started at midnight tonight or Friday and Ms King had offered no advice on how to get rid of stock. “If these products were as dangerous as she has made out, the government should have instituted a buy back scheme”, she said. “They can’t burn it or throw it in the garbage because that would infringe state laws on environment and public health. With less than 24 hours notice they could sell it to drug dealers this afternoon or give it away. This has not been thought through at all".
Ms Patten said that the government was caught by the limited nature of the Drugs Schedule which does not allow a category for recreational drugs. “If alcohol was to be considered under the same legislation it would be listed as a Schedule 9 drug and would be banned, because there is no category for social stimulants or recreational drugs”, she said. “The federal government has to face the fact that millions of Australians use recreational drugs and they have a right to be considered by the Scheduling Committee as legal compounds as long as they meet certain health standards. No one is saying that these substances, like alcohol, do not have health issues but the New Zealand government’s Expert Health Committee completely contradicted the Australian Minister by saying that synthetic cannabis was less harmful than alcohol and should not be banned”.
Ms Patten said the Scheduling Committee stated that the basis for their decision was that the products, "are used for the purpose of obtaining a psychoactive effect; may be dependence producing; have no legitimate therapeutic uses and have documented harmful effects which may be significant in some individuals." Obviously under this criteria alcohol and tobacco would listed under schedule 9 but they are not.
“The Committee did not send this issue to an advisory committee and they called our material ‘unsolicted comment from stakeholders’ and ignored the industry that is selling these products in arriving at their conclusions”, she said.
She said that the industry was looking at compensation through the courts for an unlawful acquisition of a business.