KOZHIKODE:The The National Academy of Customs, Excise and Narcotics (NACEN) strongly suggests the introduction of an analogue and generic scheduling of drugs in India to curb the alarming rise in production and distribution of the New Psychoactive Substance (NPS) here.
NPS -- known as ‘date rape drugs’ or ‘predatory drugs’ or ‘club drugs’ -- are substances of abuse that are not controlled by the 1961 or 1971 Conventions but pose a major public threat. The chemical and molecular structures of these drugs are tampered with in such a way that they do not fall within the ambit of the drugs notified under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.
Apparently, whenever a particular NPS is scheduled and regulated, the drug cartels come up with a new substance with slight modifications in its molecular structure, but capable of producing similar effects of the illicit drug.
“Indeed, the authorities are grappling to find a solution to curb the menace. Since the drug does not fall under the ambit of NDPS, it cannot be considered illegal. Currently, what the enforcement agencies can do is to take action in a round about fashion either by checking the legitimacy of the invoice or the like,” said R N Srivastava, additional director general of NACEN, Faridabad. According to him, the only possible solution is generic scheduling of drugs which involves extending control to all the substances which share some similarities with ‘controlled’ substance, in structure, effect or both, without legislative reform. In 2013, Japan introduced generic scheduling to synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinones.
“This will effectively plug the loophole in the existing control mechanism which is utilised to produce drugs by slightly altering the controlled drug,” he said.
However, Srivastava feels this method might have a negative impact as well. “Chances are high that any of these substances might be used as an ingredient for manufacturing medicines.”