Synthetic cannabinoids are synthesised chemicals that act on the cannabinoid receptors in the body, mimicking the effects of cannabis.
Synthetic cannabinoids are subject to strict controls on possession and supply in Victoria under the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981. Synthetic cannabinoids are controlled as drugs of dependence in Schedule 11 or as Schedule 9 poisons.
No person in Victoria is authorised to possess or supply any of the individually listed synthetic cannabinoids or their derivatives, the chemical classes of synthetic cannabinoids, or synthetic cannabinomimetics. Consumer products known to contain synthetic cannabinoids and others advertised as ‘legal highs’ cannot be legally possessed or supplied in Victoria.
Drugs of dependence in Schedule 11
Eight individual synthetic cannabinoids and their derivatives, and eight chemical classes of synthetic cannabinoids were added permanently as drugs of dependence to Schedule 11 to the Act on 8 November 2013. Another three synthetic cannabinoids and derivatives were added via the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances (Drugs of Dependence – Synthetic Cannabinoids) Regulations 2013 on 11 December 2013. There are significant penalties for possession and for more serious offences, such as trafficking.
The Act and 2013 regulations can be accessed via the ‘More information’ link.
Schedule 9 poisons
The Secretary of the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing added eight synthetic cannabinoids, eight chemical classes of synthetic cannabinoids and a general entry for synthetic cannabinomimetics not otherwise specified to Schedule 9 (Prohibited Substances) of the Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons (the Poisons Standard) in 2011–12. These substances are automatically adopted and controlled as Schedule 9 poisons under the Act. Possession and supply of Schedule 9 poisons are prohibited unless they are required by an authorised person for research or analysis.
The Poisons Standard 2013 and its amendments can be accessed via the ‘More information’ link.
Other synthetic cannabinoids may be added to Schedule 9 of the Poisons Standard or Schedule 11 to the Act from time to time.
Claims by suppliers that synthetic cannabinoid-type products are legal and not captured by the restrictions on synthetic cannabinoids are unlikely to be reliable. The onus is on the supplier to substantiate any claims with analyses from accredited laboratories that show that the substances contained in the products are not defined as synthetic cannabinoids or their derivatives.
Victoria Police investigations
Victoria Police is responsible for investigating supplies of synthetic cannabinoids to the public. The local police station should be contacted if synthetic cannabinoids are being offered for sale from retail outlets.
For further information on the regulation of synthetic cannabinoids in Victoria, please contact Drugs and Poisons Regulation.