Is dope best of two evils in war on synthetics?

AS the Federal Government pounces on synthetic drugs sweeping the country, an academic believes the Sunshine Coast's plentiful supply of cannabis is keeping the scourge at bay here.

Dr Neil Mellor, a drug and alcohol addiction expert at the University of the Sunshine Coast, said while no one won in the dangerous game of illicit drug use, he believed synthetic drugs were less of a problem on the Coast because cannabis was so readily available.

"It is not clear just how many people are using synthetic drugs, but it's shown that when existing drugs such as cannabis or amphetamines are not widely available, people are resorting to synthetic drugs," Dr Mellor said.

"The fact the drugs are synthetic creates more problems in society, and brings up the argument for the legalisation of cannabis.

"(The substitutes) are not tested and are continually being altered in terms of the chemical make-up, so you have no idea how you will be affected. By controlling cannabis use ... in some cases we would stop seeing people making synthetic cannabis."

Do you think cannabis is less harmful as a drug?

This poll ended on 15 July 2014.

Current Results

Yes. It only makes people mellow


No. It leads to harder drugs


No. It leads to crime


Yes. The alternatives are much worse


This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

The synthetic - or psychoactive - substances are a range of drugs designed to mimic established illicit drugs, such as cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and LSD, and have been appearing on the market in growing numbers.

Manufacturers of these drugs use new chemicals to replace those that are banned and are constantly changing the chemical structure of the drugs to try to stay ahead of the law.

The Federal Government announced at the weekend that all psychoactive substances would be prohibited under new legislation, unless importers could prove they had a legitimate use.

The overhaul closes a loophole that allowed people to deliberately avoid prosecution by slightly changing the chemical structure of a banned substance so it could be legally imported.

Sunshine Coast CIB officer-in-charge Detective Senior Sergeant Daren Edwards said synthetic drugs had been located on the Coast and continued to be targeted through the Drug and Serious Crime Task Force.

Topics:  cannabis editors picks sunshine coast synthetic drugs

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