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New mind-altering drugs being detected at a rate of two PER WEEK

The substances are often produced in bulk by chemical companies – before being shipped to Europe by air freight, packaged and sold to consumers.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

NEW PSYCHOACTIVE DRUGS are being detected in Europe at a rate of two per week, new data from the EU drugs agency has revealed.

According to the EMCDDA, a total of 101 new mind-altering substances – known as ‘designer drugs’ were reported last year – up from 81 in 2013.

A total of 450 such substances are now being monitored by the agency – with more than half of that figure being identified in the last three years.

Fake cannabis-like drugs and synthetic speed or ecstasy-type pills (of the type formerly sold in Irish ‘head shops’) accounted for almost two thirds of the new drugs uncovered.

There was a seven-fold increase in the detection of such substances across Europe between 2008 and 2013. Almost 3.1 tonnes worth of the synthetic drugs were seized in 2013 alone.

Such new drugs “can move quickly from obscurity to infamy and cause serious harm,” EMCDDA Director Wolfgang Götz warned.

They’re often produced in bulk by chemical companies based outside of Europe, and shipped in by air freight – before being processed, packaged and then sold on to consumers.

Automatic ban

Such new drugs are automatically banned from sale here, a spokesperson for the Department of Health said.

“Hundreds of New Psychoactive Substances, of the type referred to in the EMCDDA report, will be recontrolled as a result of emergency legislation which was passed by the Dail and Seanad,” in the past week.

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A wide range of substances are controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act by means of ‘generic definitions’ the spokesperson said, “thereby aiming to stay ahead of the clandestine laboratories which deliberately try to circumvent national controls by slightly adjusting the chemical structure of existing drugs”.

For drugs not specified in the Misuse of Drugs Act , the State can rely on on the Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Act, 2010 which prohibits the sale, supply, import and export of psychoactive substances.

In the wake of this week’s Court of Appeal ruling – which temporarily made possession of drugs like ecstasy and a range of other substances legal for a period of around 36 hours – new legislation is being planned for later this year “to address the mechanism under which new substances will be controlled in the future,” the Department spokesperson said. 

This week’s unusual turn of events – which saw emergency legislation rushed through the Oireachtas – re-focused attention on the issue of drugs. A number of TDs called for the appointment of a drugs minister during a late night Dáil session on Tuesday.

Read: E’s are gone: Michael D has signed that emergency law, making loads of drugs illegal (again)

Read: Irish men have revealed why women reject them on a night out 

About the author:

Daragh Brophy

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