Catherine StewartAre these plants now illegal?

Brugmansia hedge. Design Alistair Hay

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.

Passionfruit flowerFor 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.

Leonotis leonuris


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.

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Catherine Stewart

About Catherine Stewart

Award-winning garden journalist, blogger and photographer; writer for garden magazines and co-author of 'Waterwise Gardening'; landscape designer turned landscape design judge and critic; compulsive networker and lover of generally putting fingers in lots of pies. Particularly mud pies. Original creator of GardenDrum. South Coast NSW.

2 thoughts on “Are these plants now illegal?

  1. Thanks Catherine, this is a very interesting article. Belladonna also has hallucinogenic substance but it’s not banned, probably due to it being a food family. I’ve removed Passiflora from my garden in the past but it’s re-appeared just now; I adore it’s perfumed flowers so will let it flower then remove it again; awful deep roots. Didn’t know it was banned but removed it at a neighbour’s request. The local council used to assist in the removal of invasive plants… I wonder if they still do and must ask; a local historical property has been invaded by morning glory and removing it is really hard going for the volunteers.

  2. Well the Australian government only ended up naming all the psychoactive plants for me in the region. Made my job a whole lot easier I didn’t think they were that dumb. Ok some of these are weeds they can’t get rid of completely. I’ve already managed to find acacia containing DMT and a few grass species along lakes and ponds across NSW after a month long search me and my crew (xgcx and xnmrx samples confirmed) so you can still find them everywhere. I’m now typing up pdf’s for free downloads on where to find these in NSW to educate the masses. They want to outlaw something, isn’t it best everyone educates themselves on the location of these illegal species so they don’t get into any trouble? It’s a potential danger haha or something like that ;P

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