The European Union has decided to subject two new synthetic cannabinoids to control measures across the 28 Member States.
The decision to ban the substances was based on findings of Risk Assessments conducted by the extended EMCDDA Scientific Committee in November 2017, which assessed the health and social risks of the drugs, as well as international trafficking and the involvement of organised crime.
Synthetic cannabinoids have similar effects to Δ⁹-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive substance in cannabis, but with additional life-threatening toxicity. Since around 2006, ‘legal high’ products containing synthetic cannabinoids have been sold in Europe and marketed as ‘legal’ replacements for cannabis.
Available in the EU since at least 2014, ADB-CHMINACA has been detected in 17 Member States, Turkey and Norway. At the time of the risk assessment, 13 deaths with confirmed exposure to the substance had been reported by three EU Member States (Germany, Hungary and Sweden).
CUMYL-4CN-BINACA has been available on the EU drug market since at least 2015 and has been detected in 11 Member States and Turkey. At the time of the risk assessment, 11 deaths with confirmed exposure to the substances had been reported by two EU Member States (Hungary and Sweden).
The two substances are typically found in herbal ‘smoking mixtures’ or in powder form, but other preparations are also available (e.g. blotters, e-liquids for vaping in e-cigarettes).
In the UK, these substances are already controlled under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016; Member States will have one year to introduce the controls into their own national legislation.