TESTING has revealed a synthetic drug sold at a Wodonga sex shop as a legal substance contains a banned chemical.
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That revelation yesterday forced eight related stores across Victoria to remove the drug from sale.
White Bull is marketed as a legal version of cocaine and the white powder has been sold at Erotic Nights stores for several months.
The Border Mail bought half a gram of White Bull for $150 from the High Street store after complaints from users of dangerous side-effects.
A laboratory specialising in identifying the chemical make-up of synthetic stimulants tested the sample and found it contained methylenedioxypyrovalerone.
The stimulant, also known as MDPV, was banned under the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s poisons standards in May last year.
Erotic Nights general manager Seymour Batt said the stores’ supplier told the chain it was “fine”.
“We don’t sell illegal products so when they say it’s available and it’s fine, well, we trust in that,” Mr Batt said.
“We were unaware of this.”
Mr Batt said it wasn’t him but the owner of Erotic Nights who dealt with the suppliers and he could not say who supplied White Bull to the chain.
He said they removed White Bull from the shelves of eight stores yesterday pending further testing.
“We want to make sure we’re on top of this,” he said.
Mr Batt said the supplier told Erotic Nights that its product did not contain MDPV, despite seeing documentation from the laboratory that tested a sample for The Border Mail.
Detective Sen-Sgt Barry McIntosh said Victoria Police had been aware of White Bull for some time.
He said police would test White Bull sold at the Wodonga shop before any action would be taken.
“We’ll assess it from there,” Sen-Sgt McIntosh said.
Testing of the drug on behalf of The Border Mail was done after three users approached the newspaper detailing dangerous side-effects from using the drug, including paranoia, depression, violence and psychosis.
Ben is a long-term drug user from Wodonga who injected White Bull with girlfriend Liz.
“It was a bigger rush than any other drug I’ve had,” he said.
But the pair quickly spiralled into addiction, injecting a gram each a day before the resulting psychotic delusions, violent outbursts and suicidal thoughts prompted them to stop.
White Bull has raised concerns among several clinicians across the country.
Murrumbidgee Health clinician Alan Fisher is applying for NSW Health funding to begin small-scale research to track the effects of White Bull on users and the chemical make-up of what is being sold.
“Are we going to be parking the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff or are we going to develop strategies now?” Mr Fisher asked.
Mr Fisher, a mental health, drug and alcohol clinical leader, said while White Bull wasn’t a big problem now, it had potential for serious harm.
He said there had been at least two fatalities in the past two years in Australia after users injected White Bull.
As well, 13 people who died in Britain between 2009 and 2011 had MDPV in their system.
He said White Bull had been linked with violent crime in the US, where it was banned in several states, and its links to violence could be found closer to home.
A man facing charges in the Wodonga Magistrates Court for the false imprisonment and stabbing of a former partner is said to have taken White Bull just before the alleged incidents took place.
Psychologist Stephen Bright is considered one of Australia’s leading academics on synthetic substances.
Mr Bright, a Curtin University addictions coordinator, has called for an overhaul of federal drug policy.
“We need to accept that people are going to use drugs for fun and for pleasure because until we can have that conversation around recreational drug use the same we can for alcohol, we can’t move towards an overhaul of policy,” Mr Bright said.
“We’re in the midst of a chemicals arms race and law enforcement is losing.
“We need to stop, reassess and come up with a different way of doing things.”