A fake eyelash remover has been removed from sale on Amazon and was banned from parties during Sydney WorldPride due to people using it as a party drug.
Warnings were placed outside the entrances to events such as the Bondi Beach party, which was host to 12,000 revellers during recent WorldPride celebrations, telling revellers not to bring in the cosmetic product, with an image of the product with a red cross next to it.
The ban was due to people using the product as a party drug known as GBL, which is a precursor to GHB, colloquially known as “G”. GBL’s strength and absorption can differ from GHB, meaning the quantity people take for the same effect can be highly variable, leading to potential risk of overdose.
Unlike GHB, GBL-related cosmetic products can be more easily bought through online markets, including Amazon.
“GBL is either criminalised directly as a drug of dependence or as a precursor meaning importation, supply or possession is an offence. However, it is allowed in preparations for industrial purposes,” criminal justice researcher Jarryd Bartle said.
Guardian Australia understands police confiscated the bottles from attenders and issued court notices during WorldPride events, however New South Wales police would not confirm how many had been issued at the time of reporting.
On Wednesday, Amazon removed the product from sale, and a spokesperson said the product had only been only available through a third-party seller, not Amazon directly.
“Third-party sellers are independent businesses and are required to follow all applicable laws, regulations, and Amazon policies when listing items for sale in our store,” the spokesperson said. “We have proactive measures in place to prevent prohibited products from being listed and we continuously monitor our store. Those who violate our policies are subject to action including potential removal of their account.”
But Bartle said the product being allowed for industrial purposes meant it was operating in a loophole.
“Where ‘loopholes’ exist for party drugs, users will generally take advantage of it. We saw similar patterns when alkyl nitrites (“poppers”) were able to be sold in commercial preparations,” he said.
“It’s important to recognise the limits of criminalisation in deterring recreational drug use and to prioritise harm reduction and safer use education when it comes to party drugs”.
It came as the Aids Council of New South Wales (Acon) had warned people last week to be wary of the products.
“We’ve been made aware that cosmetic products containing a high concentration of GBL are circulating in the community. If you plan to use GHB/GBL this weekend be mindful that this source of GBL has caused some overdose incidents,” Acon said in a social media post.