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Australia proposes kava import hike

Australia is proposing an increase in the amount of kava that can be brought into Australia for personal use by incoming passengers, from two to four kilograms per person.

The review is part of a commitment the Australian Prime Minister made on his Pacific tour in January 2019 to develop a pilot program to ease some of the limitations on importation of kava into Australia for personal use.

The Australian Department of Health’s Office of Drug Control (ODC), which is responsible for regulating the import and export of drugs, is coordinating a pilot program to commence this year. The ODC is now calling for submissions from the general public asking if 4kg is a suitable quantity for personal use and what are the health and social impacts of an increase in the amount of kava that may be imported for personal use.

The Office of Drug Control says if the increased quota is approved, it will be on trial for two years.

“A legislative instrument could be issued that would stipulate that 4 kilograms of dried kava, in either root or product form, could be imported for personal use, by people aged 18 years or more. The effectiveness of the pilot program will be assessed two years after the commencement of the proposed legislative instrument, after which a report on the outcome of the pilot will be provided to the Australian Government,” says the ODC.

The Australian Government Department of Health’s Office of Drug Control is also warning of health impacts of kava use.

“Liver toxicity is a known adverse effect with kava if consumed in high dosages and frequency, and the quality of kava is compromised. Elevated liver enzymes on exposure return to normal levels upon ceasing or reducing kava consumption. Long term consumption of kava can lead to toxic effects, such as dry and scaly skin which is reversible on cessation,” reads the ODC paper.

The Australian Government Department of Health’s Office of Drug Control says communities have identified kava use as a socially valued and culturally significant activity that may promote fellowship and companionship.

Submissions can be emailed to dcs@health.gov.au by March 22nd, 2019.

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