A BENDIGO man who almost died in a drug overdose on synthetic drugs says he welcomes moves to extend their ban from retailers.
But he warned that people who were addicted to the artificial drugs may be driven to the black market.
David Chill* said he backed legislation put to the Victorian parliament this week to list more drug substitutes as ‘illicit substances’.
Mr Chill has lobbied for tougher laws on synthetic drugs he said were freely available from a number of shops in Bendigo.
He said he was a marijuana smoker for years but turned to synthetic alternatives in a move that almost claimed his life in July this year.
“I overdosed for about 40 minutes,” he said. “I had a seizure. I nearly died. That’s what sparked me to say that I’ll give it up.”
New legislation introduced by the state government will broaden the definition of illicit drugs to include drug analogues, which are structurally similar to currently banned drugs.
Mr Chill said any move to crack down on the products would be a positive step.
“I’m on the bandwagon for getting rid of it because I know how unhealthy it is,” he said.
“People lining up to get this hit, they’re just around the corner from a bad turn. This stuff is killing people.”
He said people who used it regularly may not be deterred by policy changes. He said users, and retailers who make thousands of dollars a week from sales of the synthetic products, would most likely operate in a more covert manner.
“There’s a lot of money in it. I’m sure they’ll be doing it backdoor style. It’s a matter of time before it comes out again.”
Bendigo mayor Lisa Ruffell added her voice to a campaign for wider-reaching bans, writing to local traders in July to urge them to stop selling synthetic drugs.
Cr Ruffell said there had been a “disturbing trend” of drugs being sold over the counter at Bendigo stores.
One local trader told the Bendigo Advertiser in July they had stocked the synthetic products but were reconsidering their sales due to legislation changes.
All Bendigo retailers that were contacted Thursday denied ever having sold synthetic drugs.
*Name changed to protect the person's identity