The Federal government this week has brought in an interim 120 day ban on synthetic drugs. Over 19 different pharmaceuticals have been prohibited. These drugs are manufactured variants of illegal substances, that mimic the effects of cannabis, cocaine and methamphetamine. Though not the “real” product, they are promoted as “legal highs,” without the downer of jail time. The Commonwealth intends to work with the states and territories during the ban to write legislation that will prohibit the drugs altogether.
As already proposed by the Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Justice Jason Clare, the yet-to-be-written legislation plans to ‘implement a “reverse onus of proof” scheme.’
It’s extraordinary that this proposed legislation has been put forward by our federal Minister for Justice. His office is meant to uphold the key principles of law that have made what our legal system is today.
By reversing the onus of proof, instead of the government having to establish that your product is a banned substance, it is automatically assumed that anything new coming into Australia is illegal. This creates significant added costs to private enterprise, who will have to foot the legal, administrative and pharmacological fees that will be required to prove that their drug is a licit substance. On a legal rights notes, it is assuming that legitimate businesses are all criminals, unless they can prove their innocence to the government.
By all means, if the government is concerned about synthetic drugs, they can investigate companies and new products as they see fit. However, the onus, manpower and money should be expended by the accuser, not the accused.