New psychoactive substances (NPS) have changed the nature of the global drugs market. Substances that are not under international control, but mimic the effects of controlled substances, are now widely available. NPS also have the potential to pose serious risks to public health and safety. Despite often being marketed as legal alternatives to controlled substances, users can have no certainty of the health risks that will arise from using them, nor the legal status of these substances.
The UK has taken the opportunity of its one-year presidency of the G8 to lead on tackling the threat of new psychoactive substances. The G8 Member States, the UN and the EU are committed to working together to develop a better understanding of NPS, and are committed to reducing the production, manufacture, distribution and demand for NPS.
There is no standard national or international approach to NPS. Many countries have adopted broader legislative approaches for controlling NPS through the use of analogue and generic terms, temporary and emergency procedures and alternative non-drug specific legislation, such as consumer protection legislation.
In a written statement to the UK Parliament today, Minister of State for Crime Prevention Jeremy Browne said: ‘The sharing of information among international partners on the emergence of new substances, their impact on public health and the supply routes is invaluable in addressing the challenge. I am pleased to inform Parliament that the G8 have agreed a Statement of Intent to progress our close joint working on this.’