Drug ban at last

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 02-Nov-2017

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MORE than four years ago, the Bendigo Weekly ran a series of articles on the availability of synthetic cannabinoids in our community and ease of access enjoyed to these notorious products.

Synthetic cannabis has been proven to be harmful, and for too long, trade in the now banned product was allowed to flourish.

Manufacturers of these insidious substances were engaged in a frustrating process of continually changing the formula or ingredients of their products in a bid to outsmart authorities and stay one step ahead of regulators, in a dangerous game of cat and mouse where some of society’s most vulnerable people were always the victim.

But as of Wednesday, all this changes.

Hopefully.

The long-overdue blanket ban on synthetic cannabis introduced by the state government on November 1 will impact upon those who once sold synthetic cannabis under any of a number of guises. 

The government says anyone attempting to sell these substances now faces tough penalties, including up to two years in prison or more than $38,000 in fines. 

The Labor government introduced new laws earlier this year to ban these mind-altering drugs, which have been linked to increased hospital emergency admissions and a number of deaths in the past few years. 

Synthetic drugs are meant to provide a similar effect to other illicit drugs like cannabis and ecstasy, while trying to avoid existing drug control measures. 

Now why anyone ever thought this was a good idea, or remotely a fair and decent thing to do, remains a mystery.

There have always been plenty of health and government bodies who believed synthetic cannabis was always illegal, but its trade and use had been tolerated, if not allowed to prosper – until now.

It’s encouraging to note that in other states where a blanket ban has been successfully introduced, these vile substances appear to have all but disappeared, with the threat of heavy penalties causing previous suppliers to rethink their future involvement in such harmful trade.  

And having been frustrated in previous efforts to remove synthetic cannabis from society, police must now be seen to enforce the ban that so many in our community have longed for.

Sadly, Bendigo has not been spared the negative impacts of these substances, and we should be grateful for this new legislation, and welcome the tough penalties that now exist.

More importantly, we should look forward to the positive difference we all hope these bans will make in communities like greater Bendigo.  

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