Fraser Coast Chronicle | Ebony Battersby
THE harshest drug laws in Australia are not translating to mean the safest state in the country, according to the newly released Illicit Drug Data Report.
Instead, tough legislation is being blamed for the constant influx of synthetic products, illegally traded across the state, and in Gladstone.
Mandatory drug tests are increasing the prevalence of synthetic products on the local market, with titles such as ‘Happy Camper’, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Chronic.’
Local stockists are providing not only the chemically laced alternative to marijuana, but also masking agents (pictured) designed to return negative samples.
Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie is adamant the war on synthetic drugs should be considered a win for all Queenslanders.
“Make no mistake, synthetic drugs are dangerous and potentially deadly,” he said.
“We brought in Australia’s toughest synthetic drug laws to protect the community from the people who were falsely peddling these substances as harmless and natural highs.”
Gladstone resident Kim* said the problem shouldn’t be refered to in past tense, as she purchased synthetic cannabis from a local store only metres from where she lives just one week ago.
She said establishing strict laws were doing little to deter stockists from making profits and consumers from getting high.
“It’s much more intense and it doesn’t last as long,” she said.
“I started using when my dealer didn’t have any weed.”
Kim spoke to The Observer on Wednesday, affirming the synthetic market was far from over in Gladstone.
“The last time I bought it was on Saturday,” she said.
“I’d smoke some and then get s*** scared. Everything becomes nightmarish.”
Kim says she can understand how young kids would become disillusioned under the effects of the drug, that all rational thought would escape them.
“I’m pro-legalisation of marijuana,” she said.
“You don’t ever hear about potheads going out and robbing places or getting into fights. I never felt as bad as I did from smoking synthetic cannabis. Marijuana never made me feel that way.”
Unlike synthetic cannabis, there are documented benefits of marijuana in medicinal and therapeutic terms, and yet the banning of the natural product is the direct impetus for the increase in synthetic.
And it seems that Queensland is out of touch with legislation, making it nearly impossible for those seeking the numerous medicinal benefits of marijuana.
In a bold move, both Cancer Council NSW and the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association publicly support the use of marijuana in cases of terminally ill patients.
It follows last year’s NSW parliamentary inquiry into medical uses of cannabis for patients with AIDS and those confronting a terminally ill diagnosis.
Recommendations arising from the inquiry found the above patients would benefit substantially from government allowance to possess up to 15 grams.
It was also established cannabis in its natural form could provide relief to those dealing with Parkinson’s Disease, chronic pain, nausea, appetite stimulation, Multiple Sclerosis and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
However, in Queensland, policy makers are defiant in the notion that marijuana holds any form of medicinal assistance.
What is translated as success for legislators is otherwise deemed a failure for those seeking comfort in their last months, and in quashing the illegal drug trade.
Interestingly, huge disparities exist between the number of arrests made for consumers, rather than providers.
In the 2012-13 period, only 10,000 arrests were made nationwide for providers of cannabis, whereas a whopping 52,000 arrests were made for the humble consumer.
In effect, those creating and facilitating the illegal cannabis market are continuing to operate, while those consumers using for personal use or low market transfers are facing significantly higher probability of getting caught and punished.
Drug Data Report
The Queensland 2012-13 Illicit Drug Data Report confirms a 3.6% increase from the year prior in arrests made in relation to marijuana, recording a 10 year high.
Queensland tops the country in the greatest number of cannabis seizures made, 813277 grams, also recording an increase of 0.6% from the previous year.
These figures fall behind statistics for both Victoria and NSW, equating to mean more people in Queensland are being persecuted for marijuana possession for smaller amounts.