Government to opt out of EU directive on new drugs

The UK government will opt out of the European Commission’s proposals for a directive and other regulation on new psychoactive substances, it has announced.

The government ‘strongly disputes’ the conclusion of an EU Commission impact assessment that around 20 per cent of new psychoactive substances have a legitimate use, said crime prevention minister Norman Baker in a written statement. The EU’s proposals would also ‘fetter the UK’s discretion to control different new psychoactive substances, binding the UK to an EU system which would take insufficient account of our national circumstances’, he stated. The government is currently conducting its own wide-ranging review into the laws relating to new drugs (DDN, January, page 4), with the conclusions to be announced in the spring.

‘New psychoactive substances pose a significant global challenge and the decision to opt out should not in any way be considered to diminish our commitment to tackle this issue,’ said Baker. ‘We are looking at a range of options including legislative ones to enable us to deal with the dangers many of these substances present even more speedily and effectively.’

Meanwhile, police in Scotland have issued a warning about a batch of tablets in circulation containing para-Methoxyamphetamine (PMA). The tablets, which are being sold as ecstasy, are pink with a ‘Superman’ logo on one side and ® logo on the other.

As PMA can take longer to have an effect than MDMA, the risk is that people take repeat doses in the belief that the drugs aren’t working. The substance was linked to deaths and hospitalisations last summer (DDN, August 2013, page 5), prompting the Department of Health to issue a health alert. Scottish police and health services have also issued warnings about red ‘mortal kombat’ tablets featuring an image of a dragon, following the recent death of a woman in Glasgow and four other people being hospitalised.

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