Nineteen adult and herbal stores were raided across Queensland during a synchronised police operation yesterday. Many of the stores are members of the Eros Association, an industry body that has long argued for regulation.
Eros Association spokesperson Nick Wallis said the raids were futile and would likely end up with no prosecutions. However he said the increased police activity in the self-regulated marketplace was making legal traders less likely to continue trading while crime gangs were finding the increased police presence more to their style.
Mr. Wallis recently presented in front of police officers from across Australia at the Australasian Drug and Alcohol Strategy Conference in Brisbane. His topic was, “Responsible drug dealers? Self regulation in the New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) market.” Some of the key concerns Mr. Wallis noted that the industry have, are a lack of consistent quality controls, lack of good information and an inability to provide health care advice when needed. “We have a situation where the police claim they’ve banned everything that gets you high, the courts then throw out most of the cases the police try to prosecute and the politicians continue to introduce bad legislation – despite the evidence of the failure of prohibition overall.”
In 2012, the Newman Government introduced a Bill which stated that one of its objectives was to, “Amend the definition of ‘dangerous drug’ to overcome the evidentiary difficulties… (where the substance is new and has not been subjected to study).” The term ‘dangerous drug’ does not refer to whether or not a drug is actually dangerous. This Bill changed the definition of the term to remove the need to prove danger.
In an Eros submission to the Bill, alternatives to prohibition were put forward, which included age restrictions, health warnings, a testing regime and licensing. The submission clearly stated, “The amendment will not stop demand for the products, instead likely causing a market failure and sending the $50-$60 million per year industry underground, losing tax revenue and current industry-driven regulation.”
At the start of the year, the Crime and Corruption Commission stated that, “…intelligence indicates the Queensland market for synthetic drugs is expanding,” a prediction which Mr. Wallis said was made by the Eros Association three years earlier.
Mr. Wallis said that the Eros Association will keep fighting for regulation, “We want to do the right thing by everyone. Our members want to do the right thing by their customers. And the customers want safety and regulation. They don’t want to be turned into criminals.”