A 30-year-old Queensland man has been disqualified from driving and given a fine after the cannabis-user unknowingly drove with meth in his system.
The man appeared in Yeppoon Magistrates Court last Thursday, on charges of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. He was pulled over on Svendsen Rd, Zilzie on November 14 last year, and then again in a separate incident on Tanby Rd, Yeppoon on January 8th. He tested positive for meth and cannabis.
In court, the 30-year-old pleaded guilty to his charges but argued he was “not sure” how meth ended up in his system. He went on to explain that while he uses cannabis, he does not “touch” meth.
To Magistrate Phillipa Beckinsale, this was a familiar admission.
I keep hearing that from people that are here for this charge. They say ‘look I use marijuana but I don’t touch meth’.
While we don’t know the full story without the man’s toxicology report, it’s possible he tested positive for meth because he maybe unknowingly used synthetic cannabis. Synthetic cannabis is a narcotic substance designed to look like cannabis and act like THC.
In reality, synthetic cannabis is actually formulated with a range of dangerous substances – including meth. It is estimated that 2.8% of Australians aged 14+ have used synthetic cannabis.
According to experts, synthetic cannabis is the result of Australia’s cannabis prohibition. Under prohibition, there are no quality control measures that check the safety of cannabis. If a cannabis user is poisoned, there is also no legal recourse or customer-complaints process. This creates an environment where cannabis users like the charged have no idea what they are really smoking.
When it comes to the problem of synthetic cannabis, legalisation may be the answer. According to the Global Drug Survey, synthetic cannabis use is the lowest in the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain – all countries that have at least decriminalized cannabis. After legalisation in Colorado, arrests for synthetic cannabis also dropped by 50%.
If Australia legalised cannabis, users like this man could buy their products from a licensed seller: which would stop more cannabis-users from accidentally trying meth. As he had prior offences from 2017 and 2018, Magistrate Beckinsale fined him $1,800 and disqualified him from driving for 14 months.