Inquiry into Kronic, other synthetic drugs

Doctors, miners, police and judges have made their case to a state government inquiry trying to bring synthetic drugs, including Kronic, under control.

The inquiry committee, which includes Hunter MPs Clayton Barr and Sonia Hornery, has held meetings across the region this week to devise effective controls for synthetic drugs.

The Newcastle Herald reported last May that the products’ popularity had grown in the mining industry because the drugs failed to register in routine workplace drug tests.

Specialist drug and alcohol tester Coal Services Health is among several groups, including the NSW Minerals Council, appealing for the inquiry to ban the products.

A submission from the company cites testing difficulties, health risks for users and safety risks for their workmates.

Coal Services Health general manager Mark O’Neill said synthetic drugs required a different test because they created different by-products in users’ bodies.

But tweaked recipes meant the by-products often changed, Mr O’Neill said, essentially requiring testers to know which strain they were looking for.

‘‘The likelihood we’re going to have a simple on-site test device like we do for [other] drugs in the short-term is unlikely,’’ he said.

‘‘You can send it off to an accredited lab and identify if [synthetic traces] are there, but that’s about it.’’

Mr Barr said the risk of intoxicated workers going undetected in many industries was a major concern, requiring a ‘‘proactive and pre-emptive’’ solution.

‘‘How would you feel about a teacher [imbibing] and then teaching a class, or [supervising] kids abseiling?’’, Mr Barr said.

‘‘There is not going to be a simple solution.’’

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell banned several ingredients used in the products following the Herald reports, but formula changes have allowed the products to remain on shelves.

The Eros Association, which represents adult stores selling and importing the synthetic drugs, made a submission arguing for heavy restrictions instead of a ban.

‘‘Governments have to understand that banning these products mean they lose control of them,’’ the association’s submission says.

‘‘There is absolutely no jurisdiction in the world that has effectively prohibited these substances.’’

The inquiry is expected to report to NSW Parliament this year.

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