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Stronger control measures for the synthetic drug BZP

The European Commission seeks to protect European citizens against BZP, a psychoactive substance available in the form of tablets, capsules and powder. The object of this proposal is to make BZP subject to control measures and criminal penalties.

ACT

Council Decision 2008/206/JHA of 3 March 2008 on defining 1-benzylpiperazine (BZP) as a new psychoactive substance which is to be made subject to control measures and criminal provisions.

SUMMARY

BZP (1-Benzylpiperazine) is a new psychoactive substance that acts as a stimulant on the central nervous system. It a purely recreational drug, with no established or recognised medical value, which is sold over the Internet and at 'herbalists' and 'smart shops'.

The risks associated with the ingestion of this substance are still little known. That is why the Commission asked the Council - on the basis of a joint European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction EMCDDA / Europol report - to measure its health and social risks via a risk assessment based on Council Decision 2005/387/JHA on the information exchange, risk-assessment and control of new psychoactive substances.

The BZP risk assessment exercise produced the following results: 13 Member States and Norway have reported seizures of BZP in quantities from 1 to 64 900 tablets. There is no evidence of an organised crime link.

BZP is a psychoactive substance. The risks associated with its use may include:

  • increased heart rate;
  • raised blood pressure;
  • restlessness and hyperactivity.

It may also have secondary effects, in the 'down' phase, that can last for up to 24 hours after the drug was taken. These can include:

  • vomiting and nausea;
  • headache and stomach ache;
  • loss of appetite;
  • anxiety and insomnia;
  • mood swings and irritability;
  • strange thoughts;
  • confusion;
  • palpitations and trembling.

The effects of using BZP are still largely unproven. Although clinical reports tend to establish a link between BZP and seizures, this conclusion is based on a very small number of cases, in which moreover the BZP was detected in post mortem specimens and its role in the death could not be determined since other factors were involved.

The risk assessment report reveals the lack of conclusive scientific proof establishing the global risks of this new substance. To be on the safe side, however, given that it does represent a health risk, it would be wise to make it subject to control and to take appropriate measures.

Final provisions

The Member States are required to make BZP subject to the control measures and criminal penalties provided under their national laws in accordance with the obligations imposed by the 1971 United Nations Convention on psychotropic substances.

Background

A number of initiatives have already been taken. The EMCDDA risk assessment concluded that the use of BZP can result in health problems whose long-term effects are still unknown. Based on this finding, the Commission wants to have BZP made subject to control measures, as provided by the UN Convention on psychotropic substances. This proposal also takes account of the data that have been collected as a result of the new psychoactive substances risk assessment procedure.

Council Decision 2005/387/JHA of 10 May 2005 provides for a three-step procedure for placing this type of substance under control. The first step is to draw up a report collating all available information on BZP. This assessment was carried out by the EMCDDA and Europol before being submitted to the Council on 22 February 2007. The Council responded by asking for a more extensive study of the risks associated with BZP, to be conducted by:

  • the extended scientific committee of the EMCDDA;
  • the Commission;
  • Europol;
  • the European Medicines Agency (EMEA).

REFERENCES

ActEntry into force - Date of expiryDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Decision 2008/206/JHA8.3.2008-OJ L 63 of 7.3.2008

RELATED ACTS

Council Decision 2005/387/JHA of 10 May 2005 on the information exchange, risk-assessment and control of new psychoactive substances [Official Journal L 127 of 20.5.2005].

Last updated: 18.04.2008
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