Send in the Scientists

A story that highlights: the apparent lack of scientific input into government policy. The effectiveness of anonymous dissident websites…

A proposal to amend the Federal Criminal Code Act could see a number of plants species become outlawed.

The proposed schedule reads as follows:

  • Any plant containing mescaline including any plant of the genus Lophophora.
  • Any plant containing DMT including any plant of the species Piptadenia peregrine
  • Salvia divinorum EPL. & Jativa (Diviners Sage)
  • Mitragyna speciosa Korth (Krantom)
  • Catha edulis Forsk (Khat)
  • Any species of the genus Ephedra which contains ephedrine
  • Any species of the genus Brugmansia Pers.
  • Any species of the genus Datura L.

The government (Attorney General’s department) sought consultation on the proposed schedule via its website. Industry was not offered input into the consultation paper.

Somehow the consultation paper was found and a concerned grower notified the peak industry body Nursery Garden Industry Australia (NGIA)

An anonymous dissident website was set up here This group consisted of concerned academics, gardeners and the nursery industry.

Through social media [and some press] this website captured 2,510 submissions.

The concern regarding the proposed drug schedule were ‘the blanket ban’ approach and the seemingly lack of scientific data, including plant taxa, to classify the precursors or drugs.

Also there was community and industry consensus that Brugmansia and Datura should be excluded.

Dr Anthony Kachenko (NGIA) was also concerned about the lack of scientific data and input from industry.

No comment was received from the Attorney General’s department regarding any of these concerns and no success in determining who was involved in the committee that put together the schedule, apart from the fact that it has been disbanded.

This committee put together a document called ‘Code of Practice for supply diversion into illicit drug manufacture.” The parties involved appear on the back page of that document and include Science Industry Australia. However, they have denied any input into the proposed drug schedule.

This schedule also has a potential impact on the Native Food Industry who use wattleseed from Acacia sp. Some Acacia sp contain DMT. Australian Native Food Industry Limited (ANFIL) has invested lots of $s in projects with RIRDC on the toxicological data of some Acacia sp. Was this data taken into consideration? ANFIL also raises its concern at a ‘blanket ban.’

Repeated requests [ongoing] to the Minister’s department via email and phone have failed to answer any of the concerns raised in submissions or who was involved in the committee that put together the proposed schedule. Maybe its time to initiate a FOI request?

This entry was posted in Branch Notices, Discuss, Mailing List, National, Policy, Qld, Uncategorized and tagged , by Susan Kirk. Bookmark the permalink.

About Susan Kirk

Susan Kirk is a freelance science journalist, with a degree in journalism and qualifications in horticulture. She has written for many different publications but lately writes extensively for Fairfax media. She wrote a number of the Taste booklets (Global Food and Wine) which showcased Australian produce and producers and even did a stint as a restaurant critique. She loves growing, cooking and consuming food so over the years the interest in ornamental plants turned into an interest in food plants, especially herbs. She is a member of the Media Alliance, and is a member of and the Queensland web editor for the Australian Science Communicators.