A Russian drug linked to the mass overdose of 10 schoolboys on the Gold Coast earlier this year has been banned in Queensland.
Phenibut – which put the St Stephen’s College students in hospital, and four in a critical condition in February – is among 104 new substances now illegal in the state.
“The recent awful incident on the coast serves as a reminder that new and dangerous substances are finding their way onto our streets,” Attorney-General and Minster for Justice Yvette D’Ath said.
“It is therefore essential we move quickly to ensure this chemical is illegal.”
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said the penalties for those caught with the prohibited substance will be severe.
“Like many Queenslanders, I am very concerned about the incident that took place,” she told reporters on Sunday.
Other substances that have been banned include synthetic cannabis compounds ‘Full Moon’ and ‘Buddha’.
Full Moon was involved in the deaths of two people in Mackay in 2015.
“These synthetic compounds are often mixed with solvents and have a dangerous and unpredictable effect on the brain,” Ms D’Ath said.
Ms D’Ath said it is a daily battle for authorities to stay ahead of the drug market.
“Drug dealers will try anything in desperate bids to push drugs onto streets, often introducing new substances and variations of old ones in a cynical attempt to circumvent the law,” she said.
She said there had been a surge in designer drugs and chemicals sold as natural or safe alternatives to cannabis.
“These chemicals are not safe, certainly not natural and have absolutely no therapeutic value,” Ms D’Ath said.
“Specifically scheduling these chemicals puts their legal status beyond doubt, making it easier for law enforcement to prosecute dangerous drug offences.”
Readers seeking support should contact the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) on 1800 177 833.