“Synthetic Cocaine” and the Problem with Drug Criminalisation

The Age is reporting that a form of ‘synthetic cocaine’  is being sold in adult stores. I have my doubts that there is anything “cocaine” related about this new drug other than it being a stimulant which falls outside the Victorian legislation. This is a serious problem with attempting to control the use of illicit substances, as there are many ways to synthesise  new drugs to have the same effect on neurotransmitter uptake or production to have essentially the same result as cocaine or amphetamines. Regulating the classes of drugs themselves doesn’t achieve much. This is especially true when we are talking about criminalisation which requires a specific list of “criminal vs non-criminal” versions of the drug so that therapeutic use of a derivative isn’t caught up. As for the effect of cracking down on this new substance, Paul Dillon, director of Drug and Alcohol Research and Training Australia said it best:

”What you are going to see is this will get a bit of media attention and it will disappear. Something new will come on the shelves next week.”


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