DANGEROUS new psychoactive drugs are emerging in Australia at a breathtaking rate, say experts conducting groundbreaking research into online drug sales.
The drugs can be toxic to the brain and are often untested on humans, and unsuspecting users are buying them without knowing what they contain or what effect they will have.
About four new chemical substances, and 10 retail outlets selling them to Australians, are emerging each month, Tasmanian researchers have found.
And research by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre has found that the “silk road”, an online black-market trading site, is expanding at a similar rate.
A senior lecturer at the University of Tasmania, Raimondo Bruno, said the size of the online drugs market, and the risks posed by the drugs, scared him.
“People are dabbling in a wide range of substances we don’t really have a lot of human data on,” he said. “Some of these products are known to be neurotoxic, even in animals.”