This from theAge.com:
Party drug sold online
By Jano Gibson
May 22, 2006 - 2:15PM
A credit card and internet access are all that's needed to import the potentially deadly recreational drug known as G into Australia.
G has become a popular party drug because it produces an ecstasy-like high.
The drug - also known as GBL, GHB, grievous bodily harm and liquid ecstasy - is an industrial solvent normally used as a paint thinner.
"It's a very intense rush, incredibly pleasant. I guess at times you get very sexual and very frisky ... it makes you want to root anything," one regular user told smh.com.au in a recent article.
However, taking the drug is as risky as Russian roulette. A tiny miscalculation in the dose can cause unconsciousness, coma and death.
Deaths linked to drug
Eleven fatalities have been linked to the drug in Australia, including that of 24-year-old Matthew Ryan, the son of rugby league legend Warren Ryan.
Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital alone deals with about 200 non-fatal overdoses each year.
Police have issued warnings that date rapists use the drug to spike their victim's drinks.
While some users buy small doses of the drug from dealers at night clubs, others have discovered a way to import large quantities of it into Australia - and it is almost as easy as buying a book on Amazon.com, albeit with the risk of life imprisonment if they are caught.
"I ordered it through the internet," said one user who has purchased GBL a number of times from a foreign website that delivers the liquid substance in discreet, 100 millilitre bottles - no questions asked.
"I paid with my credit card and a couple of weeks later it arrived in the mail and I picked it up at the post office," said the user, who asked not to be identified.
Easy to order
"It is as easy as ordering anything else, any kind of product. You go to the [online] store and you click on the product you want and the number of items. And that's it."
Over the past three financial years Customs has intercepted 31 packages containing the substance but drug researchers estimate that that is just a fraction of the GBL imports making their way into Australia.
"There are many, many, many litres of this stuff coming in all over the country completely unidentified," said Paul Dillon from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre. He identified Chinese-based websites as the main source of online GBL importations.
"The internet has made it easier for people to import a range of different drugs for a long long time."
Several sponsored links pop up in Google if you search for "GBL". Most of the sponsored links appear to be legitimate websites selling GBL to customers who use it for industrial purposes.
One such website, Bling Your Rims, warns buyers that "our products are for external use only are are not for food, drug or cosmetic use. We do not condone or encourage the misuse of our products."
However, other sponsored links on Google have no warnings and even pop up when the word "Xyrem" is plugged into the search engine. Xyrem is a GBL-based pharmaceutical product used to treat narcolepsy that the US Food and Drug Administration warns not to buy online.
Mr Dillon said most GBL importers were bypassing these Google-linked sites and using less conspicuous Chinese-based websites that packaged the drugs without proper labelling.
He said it took "an awful lot of digging around" on the internet to locate such websites.
An Australian Federal Police spokesman said the organisation was well aware of internet-based importations but had not set up a specific unit to deal with the problem.
"The internet has been used as a means to facilitate drug importations. GBL is one of a number of prohibited imports which may be purchased via online means," he said.
"The AFP drug teams target drug importations of all types. No team has been established to specifically target any one drug type. [We] take seriously all illegal importation of drugs regardless of the technique used to bring the drugs into Australia."
Even though it might seem relatively easy to import the drug, Mr Dillon warned that the consequences of getting caught importing GBL, or taking it, were extremely serious.
"First off, if you get caught, there are serious consequences. The law is changing and you can find your life ruined forever."
"[Secondly] we just don't know enough about consuming GBL. It is an industrial solvent. Realistically the health effects - we don't know much about [them]."
A few years ago people ordered 'GHB kits' - which included chemicals and equipment to make the drug - from various foreign websites. An international crackdown saw those websites disappear and many importers arrested.
Charged with importing
Australian man has told how he was charged with importing the kits from a US-based website during the crackdown in 1997.
"I did that about eight times with small kits. [I would] order them over the net, pay with a credit card and they would just Fed Ex them to you" said the man, who asked not to be named.
"The [chemicals in the kits] were all in the right proportion and you'd just mix them and be careful because it's a pretty explosive reaction."
He said he became a bit "cocky" and ordered a larger batch, which was noticed by Australian authorities.
"The Feds [AFP agents] intercepted it and turned up on the doorstep disguised as FedEx delivery people.
" I wasn't [at home] at the time. They delivered it and got my brother to sign for it and came back an hour later and raided the house. They seized everything and took it all.
He was interviewed and charged but only received a $2000 fine for importing the substance.
Laws are much stricter now, with importers facing a maximum penalty of life in prison and/or an $850,000 fine.
DO'S AND DON'TS
- mix 'G' with alcohol or any other depressants
- take the drug while alone
- if the person is having a seizure
- if you cannot wake them up so they can talk to you coherently
- if they are having trouble breathing or seem to be breathing too slowly
What to do:
- call an ambulance or find event first-aid staff
- keep them safe, monitor their breathing and make sure their airway is clear of obstructions such as vomit
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