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17 July 2014 - New legislation closes synthetic drugs loophole

Minister for Justice

New legislation closes synthetic drugs loophole

17 July 2014

New legislation introduced to Federal Parliament today will close a loophole that allows people to deliberately avoid prosecution by slightly changing the chemical structure of an illicit drug so it can be legally imported into our country.

Synthetic drugs are often marketed as legal alternatives to illicit drugs, implying they are somehow safe and credible. Yet, tragically, we have learned too many times through death or injury to people – especially young people – that this is not the case and they are extremely dangerous.

Existing criminal laws ban illicit drugs based on their chemical structure. However, the rate at which new versions of synthetic drugs appear makes it difficult for our laws to keep up.

The legislative changes put us ahead of the criminals. Rather than law enforcement having to prove that the particular structure of a psychoactive substance is illegal, all psychoactive substances will be prohibited from importation unless the importer can prove they have a legitimate use.

The new ban will help stop synthetic drugs from being presented as 'legal' and governments and law enforcement agencies will no longer be trying to play catch up every time a 'new' synthetic drug is produced.

The ban will add to existing illicit drug offences, which will continue to be the primary way we deal with illicit drugs and the people who try to import them.