The threat from a growing market for global organised crime.
International criminal gangs are rapidly expanding into the market for new types of legal highs, while law enforcement agencies lack the tools to keep up, the head of US overseas drug enforcement has warned.
Governments have struggled to keep up with the rapidly growing market for new psychoactive substances, as banning a new drug can require a complex legislative process and many of these drugs remain legal in some countries, said Brian Nichols, assistant secretary at the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
“These types of drugs are what transitional criminal networks are increasingly moving towards. Traditional drugs like marijuana are not as much in favour – they are bulky and hard to transport. Heroin and cocaine are very important but drug addiction is moving to the illicit use of pharmaceuticals and new substances like GBH,” said Nichols.
“This is the growing threat. The use of traditional drugs is declining in the UK and the US, cocaine use is dropping, but prescription drug abuse is growing and new substance abuse is growing.”
What was once a cottage industry has rapidly evolved, with labs and factories in China, Europe and the US manufacturing the chemicals on an industrial scale, churning out hundreds of tonnes of the compounds, said Nichols.
Simon Stephens Director of Casework at Addictions UK said: “We have seen more clients addicted to prescription pills and previously legal highs such as Mephedrone in recent times. It is clear that the law cannot keep up with a global drug trade where people can buy drugs on line. Drug treatment is just as effective for these new substances and we have had great success in helping people overcome their dependency on legal highs and prescription medication.”
For more information read the story in The Guardian
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