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  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Toxic ingredients in pills as cocaine use hits new high
    THE purity of drugs being sold on Queensland streets has declined dramatically in the past decade, putting thousands of lives at risk.

    A Crime and Misconduct Commission report on the illicit drug market found the purity of ecstasy and amphetamines had halved since 2001-02, with many tablets containing a bizarre range of substances from veterinary drugs to anti-depressants.

    The CMC study also found cocaine use had risen to an all-time high in Queensland and reported that children aged as young as 10 were using cannabis in north Queensland indigenous communities.

    Heroin use remains steady and methylamphetamine use is on the decline as a result of the crackdown on access to pseudoephedrine.

    Many of the findings were exposed last year by The Courier-Mail's investigative series The Drugs Scourge, which was acknowledged by the CMC.

    The series of news reports . . . highlighted the level of community concern about illicit drug use in Queensland and its effects on individuals, families and social health services," the CMC report said.

    CMC director of intelligence Chris Keen said of most concern was the "false impression" that drugs such as ecstasy, cocaine and methylamphetamines were socially acceptable.

    "This idea that these are soft recreational drugs is wrong," Mr Keen said.

    "They have an adverse impact on your health and can disrupt relationships and professional standing."

    Hospital admissions for drugs related to ecstasy increased from 30 in 2001-02 to 522 in 2007-08.

    Mr Keen said there was no doubt contaminated drugs were contributing to the spike.

    "Ecstasy itself has harmful effects but when you don't know what's in the adulterated tablet it's a major health issue," he said. "There's no quality control over them."

    Although the report found the market for methylamphetamines had decreased, due to a crackdown on access to pseudoephedrine, the CMC said it suspected criminals had moved to alternative pre-cursor chemicals. Mr Keen said the commission was closely monitoring the development.

    "We really don't want to publicise if they are available," he said. "The strong positive is that police, together with health and other regulatory agencies, are making sure substances like pseudoephedrine can't be used for that."

    The report noted that new phone tapping powers given to Queensland police last year would address a serious deficiency in law-enforcement.

    by Robyn Ironside
    The Courier-Mail
    March 16, 2010 8:58PM



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