Drugs standard now online

The Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 proscribes various drugs and poisons. Yes, this is hardly a groundbreaking revelation.

But, if you try to find what items are listed in Schedules 1 to 9 of the Act, you’ll quickly discover they’re repealed. (And have been for a long time.)

So, why can’t we pop down to the local pharmacy and stock up on S4 drugs?

Because Part 2 of the Act provides for a Poisons Code and Poisons List which both refer to the Commonwealth standard, in turn incorporated into the Victorian Act.

Commonwealth standard is defined in s 4 of the Act:

Commonwealth standard means—

(a) the document called “the Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Drugs and Poisons”, being recommendations of the Public Health Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council, published by or by the authority of that Council; or

(b) if the title, formulator or publisher of that document changes, a document prescribed to be the Commonwealth standard – and, except in sections 12 to 12I, includes that standard as published or amended from time to time

The SUSDP is drawn up by the National Drugs and Poisons Schedule Committee and enacted by the Commonwealth Government under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (Cth) s 52D.

For a long time the SUSPD was only available by hard-copy subscription.

But just recently it was added to the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments on ComLaw and an up-to-date version of the Standard is now freely available online. The great advantage of this is that it is searchable. For example, searching for pethidine shows that it’s listed in both Schedule 4 and Schedule 8 (and it’s listed in Schedule 11 of the state Act), which means possession might be an offence contrary to s 36B or s 73.

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