Side event: National and regional responses to synthetic drugs

Organised by the Government of Australia, Canada and Japan and UNODC Global SMART.

HE Dr Brendon Hammer (Australia)

Thank you all and welcome. In Australia we a seizing increasing amount of ‘ice’ (crystal methamphetamine). We have established the National Ice Taskforce.

Dr Justice Tettey (Chief of UNODC Laboratory and Synthetic Program)

I will give you a global overview of the synthetic drugs situation. The Global ATS market continues to rise. Global market of ecstasy, methamphetamine use in Middle East, and NPS.

Global ATS seizures continue to rise. From 2005 to now. Between 2010 to now, global seizures of ATS have doubled. Methamphetamine is the greatest global health threat. For the first time, Asia has had the highest amounts of seizures, surpassing North America for the first time. In East and South East Asia, people using methamphetamines made up the highest amount of people in treatment. In 2015, national experts in China, Japan, Macau, the Philippines and Singapore identified that methamphetamine use was the highest. In Afghanistan, methamphetamines are trafficked a lot, despite opium use being traditional. Amphetamines with caffeine are common. Ecstasy market has grown in diversity – we can identify three main products – ecstasy tables with no MDMA, ecstasy tablets, and powder. We need to mention NPS. Since we began monitoring the NPS market, we have seen 500 new substances in 2015. These are cumulative numbers. Some appear and disappear, some stay on the market. IN 2016, 50 countries responded to our survey on NPS. For the first time, countries like Guatemala and Uzbekistan were reporting seeing NPS. ‘Other substances’ have not yet been identified. In 2015-16, we noticed 5 new fentanyl analogues globally. NPS are proliferating at an unprecedented rate. 10 new benzodiazepines in 2015 alone. We expect to see many more in the future. NPS are highly attractive for vulnerable groups, not wanting to show up in detection tests.

Dr Wendy Southern PSM (Australian Department of Health)

This presentation calls for alarm. I will focus on growing rate of use of synthetic crystal methamphetamine in Australia. We certainly welcome this discussion. Australian Household Drug Survey in 2015 indicated dramatic rise in crystal methamphetamine (‘ice’) use. 5 priority areas have been identified and led to Nation Ice Action Strategy. Family and communities can access information through online portal. People can access treatment and there is more funding for this. We have increased funding for treatment in the alcohol and other drug sector. The national ‘dob in a dealer’ campaign has led to increase in drug related information reports. The ‘ice destroys lives’ campaign as developed. We are funding more research in this area. Ambulance data is being identified, in order to better plan for treatment. We are expanding wastewater analysis. Health and law enforcement sectors are working collaboratively. Roadside drug testing expanding. Realtime identification of precursors is being developed. Future capacity to reduce development of synthetic drugs. Looking forward to working with other member states in this area.

Mitsuiro Ohara (National Police Agency of Japan)

I’m in charge of social welfare, customs and other areas. ‘Trends and Law Enforcement counter measures’ drug seizure statistics in Japan – crystal makes up for 80% of seizures in Japan. Heroin and cocaine have very small profiles. Criminal activity is a trend that spans many decades. Comes from Taiwan, Mexico and West African criminal organisations. Last year methamphetamine seizures increased dramatically. Yacht case in 2016, and LED light case 2016. Tuna case in Taiwan 2016. Methamphetamine was concealed in frozen tuna – they tied blue ribbons on all tuna that contained methamphetamine. Regaining momentum since 1998 and 1999. Rapid evolution of methamphetamine market in the Asia Pacific region. Making up for half of global methamphetamine seizures. Growing demand increases global and regional production of methamphetamine. Japan, Australia and New Zealand are experiencing a crossover in supply. NPS issue now shrunk. NPS issue addressed by government. We arrest abusers as well as pushers. We are proud of this approach and think it has been successful. Since UNGASS 2016 – wider range of law enforcement agencies in Japan will be addressing this. We are strongly interested in expanding this approach.

Mr Andrew Johnson (UK)

Thank you. ‘The UK approach to NPS’. I’m going to present the balanced approached that the UK developed for NPS. Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 – ‘blanket ban’ against the production and supply of all psychoactive substances. Exemptions for controlled drugs, medicinal products. Multi-agency approach to implementation. includes – guidance, forensic strategy, initial evidence and formal review. 31 shops shut down. Prevention and treatment – Public Health England guidance, educators pack, NEPTUNE. Trying to reduce harm from ‘club drugs’ and NPS. We are trying to assist and support frontline workers. UK has a number of early warning systems, but limited options for frontline workers to report health harms of NPS, and a network of experts to analyse data from existing sources and new online forums. We will keep CND informed of this development. Link between substance abuse and homelessness. UK NPS picture: synthetic cannabinoids. We are developing a targeted and comprehensive response to address this more appropriately. NPS use in prisons poses a threat in the UK. We are working to improve NPS detection and develop NPS testing. We are training hundreds of dogs.

Antonio Guzman (United States of America)

NFLIS data chart shown – drugs being used – cannabis, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, aplrazolam, oxycodone, fentanyl. We have a split heroin market – white and black tar heroin. The market is not that big for heroin, misuse of prescription opioid medication is much higher. Exponential growth in fentanyl market. 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. Heroin seizures have gone down, fentanyl seizures have increased dramatically. Ohio has been hit the highest. High number of deaths in a small population. NPS prices are high. You can buy 1kg of fentanyl for less than $5000. It’s very cheap, you can buy it online. Fentanyl and related compounds are pressed into counterfeit pills. Fentanyl in black tar formed was seized in 2015. We want to have a holistic approach to this issue. We have a 3 pronged approach to the heroin and opioid pills issue. NPS/fentanyl outlook – challenging and evolving. Heroin and fentanyl adulterated extensively. You can get a heroin and fentanyl very easily. Current epidemic – carfentanil. We have a big problem with prescription drugs. Potential revenue – very high. There are more powerful products out there. 2 milligrams will kill you. I passed around a small bag of sugar. That small amount of sugar, if that was fentanyl, we would all be dead. Carfentanil use is growing, we have seen fatalties in Arizona, Florida, Kentucky and more states. We are hoping carfentanil will be reviewed by the WHO this year. Hopefully this is once in a lifetime, and we will not see it for much longer. I urge us to become a community of action. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.