It’s never been easier or cheaper to get synthetic drugs
Dapaanz’ anonymous source says it’s never been easier or cheaper to get synthetic drugs into New Zealand
Drug and Alcohol Practitioners Association of Aotearoa New Zealand (dapaanz) media release, 5 October 2017
A former importer of synthetic drugs, who wishes to remain anonymous, has warned dapaanz that it’s never been easier or cheaper to import synthetics into New Zealand, and the recent spate of deaths linked to AMB-Fubinaca is just the tip of the iceberg.
“We've received credible intel that potent synthetic drugs like AMB-Fubinaca are being sourced in bulk online by Kiwi drug dealers to sell in the community for enormous profits,” says dapaanz Executive Director Sue Paton.
“Internet technologies are driving the rapid globalisation of a psychoactive substance black market with profits of up to 2000 percent,” she says.
According to the unnamed source, overseas research chemical companies are providing product for a worldwide black market using either the internet or crypto-market transactions through the dark-web. These companies employ effective smuggling techniques for powders and liquids and are so confident of bypassing border controls they offer customers guaranteed deliveries.
“It’s not just the compounds linked to synthetic cannabis that New Zealanders should be worried about either,” she says.
According to the source synthetics that mimic the effects of opiate, psychedelic and stimulant drugs have all been developed and many of these substances have never been subjected to any form of testing.
Ms Paton says dapaanz has been told these highly potent drugs have an extremely fine overdose threshold and that shoddy application methods were behind the recent spate of deaths.
“Our informant tells us another issue with synthetic drugs is that often more than one compound is used and different compounds mixed and distributed onto plant matter. This can be highly potent and have an unexpected impact on receptors in the brain leading to seizures and states of catatonia.
“The potential impact of these drugs on human brain receptors is unknown because they've not subject to any form of testing.”
The informant has told dapaanz that because the psychoactive industry is unable to prove synthetic compounds are safe without animal testing, and thus have them legal for sale, elements of the industry have reverted to online operations outside of New Zealand.
“Products once available on New Zealand shelves can still be purchased online by buyers using international cut out addresses via you-shop type services and some of these companies are relabelling their products as zero percent nicotine vape juice,” she says.
“That dealers can provide an extremely strong and cheap product while making enormous profits means synthetics are being aggressively marketed by unscrupulous criminals.
“The ease with which synthetic drugs can be imported into the country means a prohibitionist approach to control is unlikely to have any lasting impact.”
Ms Paton says, any strategies to reduce drug-related harm, such as the methamphetamine plan that is currently being revised, need to incorporate other harmful products that are being imported with ease.
“When one substance is given prominence and considered in isolation, it just makes room for other substances – some even more harmful, to fly under the radar. A robust and comprehensive approach that has recovery for individuals and families affected by substances at its core is necessary.”