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Happy highs in Australia

world Updated: Feb 11, 2012 23:19 IST
Rohit Bhaskar
Rohit Bhaskar
Hindustan Times

Cannabis is illegal in Australia. That, of course, is hardly a hindrance for law-abiding citizens who don’t want to indulge in illegal activities to get their kicks. They can smoke synthetic cannabis, which is completely legal and sold over the counter.

Herbal stores such as Happy High Herbs and many tobacconists sell synthetic cannabinoids which don’t contain THC, the active chemical in cannabis, but promise a similar high. The products are also sold extensively online, and also through social networking sites like Facebook.

They are sold under various tradenames such as Tribal Trance and Marihuana. The exact content of the product is not known, although it is known that synthetic cannabis is made from medicinal herbs like Dimiana and Lions Tail sprayed with psychoactive chemicals.

While these synthetic drugs have evaded the authorities’ eyes for a long time, they came under the scanner in July last year when eight such herbal highs, most prominently a product sold under the name Kronic, were banned by the Australian authorities after there were deaths reported from their consumption. Medical authorities also warned of potential side effects of inhaling these herbal highs as they

hadn’t been tested in the laboratory.

According to the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, Australia, in addition to the possible legal consequences of using these products, there is little known about their ingredients and as a result the possible health consequences of using them via any route of administration are as yet unknown.

The owner of Happy High Herbs, Bankstreet, Adelaide, told Hindustan Times about the potential market for the product. “It initially caught on online with youngsters who were looking for a legal high, and now, there’s a market for it. People who don’t want to smoke weed, but still want to feel that high,” she said.