Acacia, Brugmansia, cactus, morning glory and passionfruit. Are these plants now illegal in NSW? New legislation passed by the NSW Parliament to ban all synthetic drugs could have unintended side effects for anyone growing a plant deemed to contain a psychoactive drug.
For some years law enforcers have been trying to find a way around the constant new drug creation followed by prohibition catch-up, where each newly developed synthetic psychoactive drug had to be identified, described and then outlawed. Since the tragic death of a young man a few months ago while under the effects of a synthetic LSD-type drug, the pressure has been on to outlaw any substance with a psychoactive component. This makes something illegal, until proven otherwise.
The trouble with this grab-all legislation is that many who opposed it fear that its hasty drafting will bring unintended consequences, including the criminalisation of those who grow, sell, swap or otherwise promote any plant that contains a psychoactive drug. This includes plants like many species of Acacia (including the well-known Sydney golden wattle), Pandanus, many cactus species such as Echinopsis, Elaeagnus angustifolia, Passiflora, Leonotis and Trachelospermum. Although most of these plants have only tiny amounts of these drugs, the legislation does not specify how much is too much. And strangely, anything that falls under the definition of ‘food’ is excluded in the new Act.
Brugmansia is known to contain larger amounts of hallucinogenic drugs and so could become a prime target for this legislation.
Those supporting the legislation claim it would never be implemented that way. But doesn’t that make it flawed legislation, if its implementation is already at the discretion of police?
1. For information about the legislation, see Drugs and Poisons Legislation Amendment (New Psychoactive and Other Substances) Bill 2013
2. An interesting media release from the Happy Herb Company outlining potential problems with this legislation.