Fake cannabis seized during raid
CIB detectives have raided an Emerald tobacconist, seizing $12,500 of synthetic cannabis products, including Kronic and K2.
Officers found 229 3g sachets alleged to be illegal fake marijuana when a search warrant was executed on the Clermont St premises on Wednesday morning.
Some were openly displayed on the shop's main counter, with price stickers of $55 attached.
The majority, marketed with alluring labels such as Pineapple Express, Purple Haze, Hush, Dutch Passion and Kush, were discovered behind shelving.
CIB Detective Sergeant Mick Polit said he believed a hole had been blown in the local market.
"We hope so. We believe this was the only place in Emerald where it could be obtained and once the information is out there, we would hope similar businesses would pull it from the shelves," he said.
Det Sgt Polit said the alleged offenders could face charges of trafficking dangerous drugs and a maximum jail term of 15 to 20 years if the substances analysed were found to be on Schedule Two of the Drugs Misuse Regulation, updated to include 19 new cannabinoids this week.
"We were acting on information from people we found in possession of the drug and recent media interest with the fact synthetic cannabinoids have become illegal," he commented.
"Police have spoken with management at the shop and further inquiries are to be made before any charges are laid."
The substances have been sent to Brisbane for testing.
Det Sg Polit said local intelligence led police to believe the synthetic cannabinoids were appealing to miners and people known to use marijuana who made the switch in the mistaken belief they could get a 'legal' high.
Det Sgt Polit said it couldn't be emphasised enough there was nothing legal about the lab-produced drug. "This is a dangerous drug, and exactly the same offence of possession of marijuana or any dangerous drugs," he said.
"The people who are trafficking or possessing these items face the same sort of consequences."
On Tuesday, State Government Attorney-General Paul Lucas said wide-ranging legislation introduced to State Parliament would close loopholes retailers currently tried to use.
"This ban is a message to shops that want to sell drugs like fake marijuana in Queensland, it's not on," Mr Lucas said.
"Synthetic drugs like Kronic can affect people the same way as marijuana including their ability to operate vehicles safely and their judgement in risky situations, not to mention their mental health."
"In October we introduced amendments to the Drugs Misuse Act to make it clear to everyone involved that it is illegal to sell anything intended to have the same effect as a banned substance.
"Once this law is passed, no amount of tinkering with the chemical compounds used will allow a retailer to claim the substances they are using aren't banned. It will mean people selling products, even if they've changed the recipe in an attempt to exploit a technicality, will face the same stiff penalties."