Drug squad raids herb franchise
The franchise owner of Happy High Herbs in Nimbin, Nell Berry, said about 12 police raided the shop looking for illegal substances and products.
Simultaneous raids were conducted on Happy High Herb outlets in Byron Bay and Uki, as well as Newtown and Bondi Junction in Sydney, and several other interstate locations.
Police told Ms Berry that the products were being taken away to be tested because of health and safety concerns, but the basis of the search warrant alleged the shop was involved in the supply of prohibited drugs.
"As far as I'm aware everything was 100 per cent legal," Ms Berry said.
She said that police were particularly interested in products such as 'cherrypop' and 'buzzz' that she described as 'legal party herbs'.
Also taken in the raid was kava, a relaxant derived from the roots of a pepper plant commonly used in the Pacific Islands.
Ms Berry said it was being outlawed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration from September 1, but was still legal to sell at the moment.
"It wasn't even on the search warrant, but they took it anyway," Ms Berry said.
The Northern Star believes that no charges have been laid as a result of any of the raids in NSW.
"I'm passionate about people getting access to safe, non-addictive alternatives. That's why I took over this shop," Ms Berry said. "The banning of herbs and the dominance of the pharmaceutical industry is the real crime."
She said that in the past decade, common herbs such as wormwood, comfrey, borage and lobelia had all been banned from sale for human consumption.
"Theses are herbs that have been used for thousands of years. This [raid] is like witch burning in the modern age," she said. "They create a smokescreen and fear around it. The TGA motto seems to be 'if it feels good, ban it'."
A spokesperson for the State Crime Command said that the seized products were undergoing forensic testing to determine if they contained drugs prohibited under the NSW Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act.
"The search warrants were executed as a result of a drug squad investigation into the production and distribution of products containing banned substances, such as benzyl piperazine and dimethyl tryptamine," the spokesperson said.