Late last night we received the draft bill that the WA government has introduced into their lower house yesterday. The proposed laws are pretty much a carbon copy of NSW’s changes and the Commonwealth custom bill changes.
And again… this harks back to a 2010 approach taken by Ireland which saw most of their ‘head’ shops shut down (also due to violent crimes occurring between competitive businesses on the black market and legal market). Ireland now has the highest consumption levels of NPS (Novel Psychoactive Substances, encompassing herbal-synth products and many, many more things) in the EU, especially among their youth. This is at least partly due to the increase in the black market and the broad, difficult to pin-down laws.
So far, we haven’t seen any prosecutions in NSW using this broad part of the legislation. It’s only a matter of time before someone gets dragged before court though and this is largely a battle of semantics.
What constitutes “significant” effect? Are these products exempt under any of the numerous exemptions, or could they be in the future?
The broader questions revolve around the scope of the law and its many exemptions. Why should some psychoactive substances be exempt while others are not? Why should substances which are proven to be not particularly risky be prohibited, while others that kill thousands of Australians a year be allowed? Where is the rationale in all of this?
So far, our reports show that there is no published literature on the psychoactive effects of certain substances. Without that evidence, the substance cannot be said to be psychoactive. It is unclear where the line is on significance and the exemptions only go to muddy the waters further.
Our reports already include sections of expert opinion on these parts of the legislation, which state that without evidence of psychoactivity, there is no reason to presume it.
Eros will continue to update members as progress on the passage of this bill moves forward. At this stage it is important for members to note that these changes have not yet come into law.