A DRUG type blamed for causing the death of a Gunnedah man and the near-death of another local has finally been banned.
The NSW government has made good on its promise to outlaw synthetic drugs with a statewide ban coming into effect yesterday.
The tough new laws come in the wake of a number of synthetic-related deaths across NSW, including the death of one man in Gunnedah, and a close call of another in Boggabri.
Since those incidents, family members have spearheaded the charge to have the drugs taken off the streets.
Under the new laws, it is an offence to possess, manufacture, supply or advertise psychoactive substances.
If users flout the law, they could face fines of up to $2200 or up to two years in prison.
Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall said it was the crackdown the community had been waiting for.
“These laws are the toughest and most wide-ranging that this country’s ever seen,” Mr Marshall said. “It’s about sending a message that there is no such thing as legal highs.”
The laws cover dozens of types of synthetic drugs but the government has also closed a loophole that dealers were flirting with.
“NSW was the first jurisdiction to introduce the interim ban and then follow through with legislation,” he said.
“The new laws not only outlaw synthetic drugs that exist at the moment, but they cater for any new types.
“As soon as new synthetic drugs are produced, they will be immediately outlawed.
“There isn’t a loophole that producers can get around.”
The new laws were triggered by interim bans put into place following the death of a teenager who fell from a balcony in Sydney.
After a three-month ban was introduced, the federal government followed suit with another interim hold before legislation with unanimous support passed both houses of NSW parliament.
Local ambulance paramedics and police have recorded numerous call-outs linked to the dangerous drugs but have reported a drop since interim bans were introduced.
Stores in Tamworth and Armidale were just a couple across the state visited by undercover Fair Trading officials to ensure they were complying with the ban.
Locally, the shops ticked all the boxes and only one shop in Kurri Kurri was found to be continuing to sell them over the counter.
“I think it will serve its purpose in removing the scourge of synthetic drugs from our community,” Mr Marshall said.