Medical authorities say it is unclear whether patients will fully recover – US health officials are investigating around 100 cases of mysterious lung illnesses believed to be linked to vaping and e-cigarette use in 14 states. Many of those who have fallen ill are teenagers and young adults. A large number have been hospitalised, with some in intensive care and on ventilators.
Macquarie University researcher Shivani Sachdev has developed new tests to analyse synthetic cannabinoids and found some are up to 300 times more powerful than the cannabis plant…a group of drugs causing hundreds of deaths and hundreds of hospitalisations around the world.
“Synthetic drugs are cheap, potent and widely available – and they have become a dangerous epidemic, literally poisoning people all over the world,” says Sachdev.
“People have died from just a small dose of some of these synthetic cannabinoids, which act in very different ways to the plant and which are far more potent,” she says.
Sachdev’s research has compared the activity of more than 20 different synthetic cannabinoids to the psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), found in the cannabis plant.
“This is the first research to quantify the strength of these compounds and what we found is very disturbing; some of these synthetic drugs were 300 times more powerful than cannabis.”
"There are, however, a few problems associated with the pill-testing proposal — legally, practically and ethically...If pill testing were to be implemented, it would require some significant legislative changes that would allow the proposed testers an exemption from the Misuse of Drugs Act, which makes it an offence either to come into possession of a drug or to supply it...Any testing employed by festival organisers would currently breach the law in both respects — by taking possession of the substance to test it, and by supplying it back to its owner."
Lawyer Tom Percy QC.
Whilst the genuine 'Harm Reductionist' (HR) - the people who hate drugs and want people to stop using, may see Pill Testing as a HR mechanism, be rest assured the pro-drug legalisers are clamouring behind this 'campaign', with one agenda; to further normalize drug use, by having not only perception, by legislation changed - to legalize by proxy! A 'Trojan Horse' by any other name!
More permission for drug use - the more engagement with drugs! And EVERY drug taking episode is an exercise in self-harm. The National Drug Strategy's aim is to reduce the harm, by reducing the uptake, engagement with and, only as a last resort, harmful outcomes of taking psychotropic toxins! Not, to promote, permit, enable, equip, empower and endorse ongoing drug use!
"Acceptability, Availability and Accessibility, ALL increase Consumption!"
Music festival pill-testers continue to skirt the truth in their campaign to expand their services beyond Canberra. At last weekend’s Splendour in the Grass music festival at Byron Bay in northern NSW, the equipment was again on show, with claims that lives are saved with testing.
Testing is about identifying deadly contaminants, but the inconvenient truth out of the NSW coronial inquest into the series of drug deaths at music festivals is all deaths were due to an ecstasy (MDMA) overdose combined with environmental factors such as the weather, hydration and other drugs.
But it gets worse. Under sustained questioning last weekend, Canberra emergency physician and testing proponent David Caldicott continued to muddy the waters, claiming that upgrading to more advanced gas chromatography (GCMS) would allow more accurate measuring of the dosage.
It fell to toxicologists to mop up with the details, explaining that GCMS could establish dose only with additional testing and infrastructure — in other words, transporting expensive mobile laboratories to every music festival in the country. To determine an actual MDMA dose, the entire pill needs to be sacrificed for testing, defeating the point of the test for users who want their expensive pill back. Only suppliers with batches to sell would benefit
Caldicott’s methods open up a canyon of concerns, defended on the flimsiest of grounds — that it’s done overseas. Australia’s festival temperatures can be double Amsterdam’s, presenting serious risks of hyperthermia and dehydration. Combining even small MDMA doses with caffeine, alcohol and other drugs here can be lethal. So many consume pills before arriving at events that about a tenth of ACT clients required a second assessment to determine if they were too intoxicated to counsel.
Startlingly, the ACT trial had no age check to prevent minors being counselled or police checks to prevent suppliers sending in samples of their inventory for assessment.
The decision to discard pills is left to the user, which opens up possibilities such as on-selling, cocktailing with other drugs in an attempt to dilute the danger or, worse, retribution against festival dealers who supply about a third of the material.
The NRMA-owned Manly Fast Ferry has confirmed it stood some deckhands down after they tested "non-negative" for illicit drugs on Monday, as revealed by the Herald's CBD column on Friday.
With fewer staff available, the NRMA said it had been forced to reduce the frequency of some of its tourist services that travel between stops including Taronga Zoo and Darling Harbour on Friday.
But a spokeswoman said Manly to Circular services were unaffected and it expects normal schedule times to operate across the weekend.
"Some deckhand staff returned non-negative results and others who did not make themselves available for the random drug test have been stood down indefinitely," a NRMA spokeswoman said.
"We’ve done this to give our passengers assurance around safety and that we have a zero tolerance policy around illicit drug use," the spokeswoman said.
The NRMA, which operates 11 fast ferry vessels through a subsidiary, is locked in a dispute with the Maritime Union over worker pay which has lasted for months.
An NRMA spokeswoman said the CFMMEU, of which the Maritime Union is a part, was notified when the staff were stood down.
But the spokeswoman declined to say how many ferry workers were stood down or what drugs were allegedly in their system because the company has not informed other workers. It is understood that will happen on Monday.
The Maritime Union declined to comment.