Pharmacist allowed his shops to sell illicit drugs


A former pharmacist has been banned from applying for re-registration for two years after police seized poppers and synthetic cannabis from his shops

The WA State Administrative Tribunal has reprimanded a former pharmacist, the former owner of the Edgewater Pharmacy, over drugs found at his non-pharmacy stores.

Hoang-Nam Nguyen was registered as a pharmacist between 2010 and 2017, though he has not been registered as a pharmacist since 1 June 2017.

Tribunal documents note that he was the director of companies that owned a series of Cloud 9 Smoke Shop and Accessories stores, located at Highgate, Rockingham, Armadale, East Victoria Park, Mandurah and Wanneroo.

Mr Nguyen was involved in managing operations at the stores and was responsible for deciding on the stock to be sold there.

On 24 February 2015, the Western Australia Police searched Cloud 9 Highgate and seized a sample of a product labelled “Jungle Juice Platinum”.

On testing, this product was revealed to contain isobutyl nitrite, an S4 which can be used recreationally as an inhalant which can produce feelings of euphoria, or enhance sexual experience – one of the ingredients known as poppers.

Cloud 9 Highgate was not a pharmacy and Mr Nguyen did not hold a licence to sell the product – or any product containing isobutyl nitrite – at the shop.

He was charged with one count of selling a poison contrary to the Poisons Act, and on 10 August 2018, Mr Nguyen pleaded guilty to the charge.

He was fined $2000 and ordered to pay costs.

Between 19 November 2015 and 2 March 2016, WAPOL conducted more searches across the Cloud 9 store network: 11 in total.

These searches unearthed 82 packets labelled as herbal incense and pot pourri, weighing 790.66 grams in total.

After these were seized and tested, they were shown to contain one or more of the synthetic cannabimimetics 5F-AMB, AB-CHMINACA and FUB-AMB.

These are prohibited substances, derivatives of AB-PINACA, an S9 prohibited substance.

Altogether there were 529.52g of 5F-AMB, 11.07g of AB-CHMINACA and 250.07g of FUB-AMB.

WAPOL first seized these products on 19 November 2015 – but Mr Nguyen was aware that these products were at the stores, and continued to allow the Cloud 9 stores to sell these prohibited substances.

On 17 September 2018, Mr Nguyen pleaded guilty to and was convicted of 17 counts of possession of prohibited drugs with intent to sell or supply.

Later that month he was sentenced to a global term of 24 months imprisonment, with parole eligibility, for the possession offences.

The Tribunal noted that Mr Nguyen has not practised as a pharmacist since May 2017, and has “demonstrated insight into his conduct and expressed remorse for his actions”.

The Tribunal has now made a decision that Mr Nguyen’s conduct had constituted professional misconduct, and reprimanded him.

He was disqualified from applying for registration with the Pharmacy Board for two years, and ordered to pay a contribution of costs of $2000.

The 2021 orders are the result of the latest decision involving Mr Nguyen, who in 2014 imported a total of 2,001 ice pipes into Australia from China and India.

This conduct saw him charged with three counts of unlawfully importing prohibited products, and convicted in 2016, when he was ordered to pay a $60,000 fine.

In 2019 the Pharmacy Board published details about this case, which saw him reprimanded and disqualified from reapplying for pharmacist registration for six months after he admitted that his behaviour constituted professional misconduct.

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