WHITE Bull is on a merry-go-round of drug control in Australia that is not working, says one of the country’s leading authorities on synthetic substances.
Stephen Bright, from Curtin University’s school of psychology, said the most recent statistics from the European Monitoring Centre showed more than one new drug emerged each week.
“Each time governments ban one of these drugs, it seems like two more emerge to replace it,” Mr Bright said.
“The number of new drugs emerging has been increasing at an alarming rate.”
In a paper published by the Australian Drug Foundation, Mr Bright said synthetic drugs were popular because their accessibility was associated with a degree of safety.
But he said there was virtually no human testing conducted before those drugs were released on to the market.
“There is therefore little information about whether the substances are toxic or even carcinogenic; we have no idea what the long-term effects might be,” Mr Bright said.
The warnings come in the wake of the Sydney schoolboy, who spent $2 on a legal LSD-like drug, and leapt to his death on Wednesday.
Mr Bright said there were concerns the next new drug could cause widespread harm.
“Is this a potential public health crisis waiting to happen?” he said.
He said the answer was not banning products.
“New and emerging drugs are a consequence of prohibition. People will always want to get high — preferably without breaking the law — and entrepreneurial individuals will continue to find ways to supply this demand,” he said.
“We either continue this game of cat and mouse, where the government bans a substance and a new one comes out the following day that’s more harmful than the ones that’s banned, or do we do a rethink?”
Murrumbidgee Health mental health, drug and alcohol clinical leader Alan Fisher said the problem was not going away.
“Information and harm minimisation are our best weapons,” Mr Fisher said.