HIGH-school students are selling a cheap and dangerous synthetic drug that mimics the effects of LSD and which has been blamed for the death of a year 12 student on Sydney's North Shore.
The hallucinogenic substance Henry Kwan ingested hours before he jumped to his death at Killara on Wednesday night is widely available on the internet for as little as $1.50 a tab.
The substance, known as either 25B-NBOMe or 25I-NBOMe, first came to the attention of NSW Police in March and is believed to be made in China.
Drug squad head Detective Superintendent Nick Bingham the police were asking the state government to put the substance on the prohibited list.
‘‘Drug types such as this are generally through peer supply, mates to mates, and the initial purchase is generally over the internet,’’ Superintendent Bingham said.
‘‘Unfortunately, it is rather cheap. [Stopping] it is very difficult – we can’t be in everybody’s lounge rooms.’’
Henry Kwan, 17, is understood to have allegedly bought the substance from a classmate at Killara High School in the belief it was LSD, and ingested it on Wednesday afternoon.
His family told police the teen had begun acting erratically when he arrived home, removing all his clothes. He appeared to be in some kind of drug-induced psychosis.
He was then involved in a stand-off with his mother and sister on the third-floor balcony of the family’s apartment in Killara Avenue, which drew the attention of neighbours outside.
His mother and sister then tried to stop him jumping. Neighbours watched on as he fell. An ambulance arrived soon after but Henry could not be revived.
Henry was preparing to do the Higher School Certificate and was a top student.
Police say there have been other recent cases of teenagers and young adults acting recklessly after ingesting synthetic substances, including a number who ran naked through the North Shore streets earlier this year.
Nick Mitchell, 15, took a similar substance and was hit by a car on the Central Coast last year after running into its path.
After Henry’s death an 18-year-old was charged with supplying a prohibited drug. He was granted conditional bail to appear in Hornsby Local Court on July 3.
Talk the LSD talk, walk the amphetamine walk
By RACHEL OLDING
THE drugs that appear to have led to Henry Kwan’s death are marketed as LSD-like hallucinogens but are closer to dangerous amphetamines, experts say.
The drugs, 25b-NBOMe and 25i-NBOMe, are sold through online marketplaces such as Silk Road and websites purporting to be chemical research businesses based in China and other countries.
A Canadian website, Biochem Distribution, sells 25i-NBOMe for $2.04 a milligram.
Another site, Isomerism, sells it for $100 per gram of ‘‘hydroclorid’’.
The two drugs have emerged only in the past six months but are among hundreds of synthetic
drugs that have flooded the market in recent years.
Synthetic drugs are artificially developed to mimic the effects of cannabis, cocaine, methamphetamine and LSD.
They exist in a legal grey area because they are marketed as not for human consumption and manufacturers tweak the recipes to circumvent illegal drug classifications.
A recent report by European authorities found one new synthetic drug was entering the market every week, far outpacing efforts by legislators to ban them.
There is no data on consumption levels in Australia but Detective Superintendent Nick Bingham said the products were ‘‘flying off the shelves’’.
Forum users have warned of the extreme potency of 25i-NBOMe and 25b-NBOMe.
‘‘I put this up my nose a couple months ago and wound up not dead, but close enough to it to where my next month was scary and foggy,’’ one user posted.
‘‘I remember nothing but death all around me. I would wake up occasionally to people asking me if I was alright [sic]. I’m a small girl. I ... took about 1-1.5 mg of this chemical that has now caused severe anxiety and panic attacks. As a matter of fact I do very much feel like I have died in a way.’’
Fiona Patten, chief executive of Eros, the association representing synthetic drug sellers, said it was common for drug dealers to buy 25i-NBOMe and 25b-NBOMe off the internet for as little as $2 a tab then sell it as LSD, which goes for about $20-$30 a tab.
However she said the chemicals were ‘‘nothing like LSD’’ and more like amphetamines, which were far more deadly.
She said the risk of overdose was very high, especially if people took it in in similar doses to LSD.