International Progress made on legal highs – Anderson

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has reported positive progress in international cooperation in the regulation of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), so-called legal highs, during her visit to China.

Ms Anderson is taking part in a four-day visit to China as part of a delegation by the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee.

Ms Anderson said:

“As part of the delegation’s trip to China, we met with the Narcotics Control Bureau of China’s Ministry of Public Security. Together with other European representatives, I raised the concern that an increasing number of so-called legal highs are being manufactured in China and then distributed in Europe.

“When referring to Europe, it is easy for some to switch off and to forget that Ireland is included in that. However, families trying to cope with the loss of a loved one due to these substances will not forget. The families and communities trying to deal with the scourge of legal-highs will not forget. All over Ireland people are struggling with drug dealing, use and addiction and the problem is only getting worse. It’s dreadful to think that 22% of young people in Ireland aged between 15 and 24 have sampled these fatal so-called legal highs.

“We had a positive meeting with the leadership of the national Narcotics Control Bureau. They informed us that a breakthrough was made in the fight to combat the manufacture of NPS last month, when a new regulation called the ‘Administrative Measures on Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Scheduled without Medical Use’ took effect.

“This regulation does two important things: it raises the number of NPS on the scheduled (prohibited) list from 12 to 116, and it ensures that the time required to place a NPS on the scheduled list has been reduced from two years to a maximum of nine months.

“China is a signatory to, and has ratified, the three United Nations drug control conventions, and its authorities are working with Europol on drugs issues. The Narcotics Control Bureau expressed their willingness to step up international cooperation to combat the manufacture and trafficking of both illegal drugs and NPS.

“I welcome this increased commitment from China in this area, and I pointed out to the Bureau leadership that this is a cat and mouse game between the manufacturers and the authorities, as they simply make a small change to the chemical compound in a drug that has been scheduled in order to evade regulation. We need to respond to the creation of new substances as rapidly as possible in order to prevent manufacturers from evading the scheduling system.

“The parliamentary committee raised this issue at every available opportunity here in China. We have a lot more to do in Ireland, in Europe and internationally to achieve this, but important progress is being made.” ENDS