Brussels, 25 June 2013
International Day Against Drug Abuse & Illicit Trafficking: European Commission calls for EU wide ban on synthetic '5-IT' drug
Ahead of the International Day Against Drug Abuse & Illicit Trafficking, the European Commission has today proposed an EU-wide ban on ‘5-IT’, a synthetic substance with stimulant and hallucinogenic effects. The Commission has asked EU Member States to prevent the drug spreading freely across Europe by submitting it to control measures.
5-(2-aminopropyl) indole (aka 5-IT) is already subject to control measures in at least seven EU countries (Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Sweden) and in Norway. It has been associated with 24 deaths in four EU countries between April and August 2012 alone.
“5-IT is a harmful psychoactive substance and is known to kill,” said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner. “I urge Member States to quickly adopt the Commission’s proposal to subject it to criminal law measures.”
At least 24 fatalities have so far been reported in four Member States (Germany, Hungary, Sweden and the United Kingdom) where 5-IT was detected in post-mortem samples, either alone or in combination with other substances. Another 21 non-fatal intoxications associated with this new psychoactive substance have been reported.
The Commission’s proposal adopted today would ban the manufacturing and the marketing of 5-IT, making it subject to criminal sanctions all over Europe. EU governments must now decide on whether to put these measures into force, voting by a qualified majority in the Council.
New legislation on Psychoactive Substances
New psychoactive substances have emerged at an unprecedented pace over recent years: 73 such substances were notified last year, this is three times more than the number of substances notified in 2009.
“The rapid spread of new psychoactive substances is one of the biggest challenges in drugs policy. With a borderless internal market, we need common EU rules to tackle this problem", added Vice-President Reding. "I am planning to present, in the following months, stronger EU legislation on new psychoactive substances so that the EU can provide a faster and more effective response.”
Meanwhile, around 40 civil society organisations working in the drugs area met with the Commission on 24-25 June to discuss how to respond to new challenges in tackling drugs. The EU Civil Society Forum on Drugs provides input to the Commission on major issues in drugs policy, including how to reduce demand for drugs, and the international debate about the effectiveness of the global drug control system.
5-(2-aminopropyl)indole (5-IT) is a synthetic substance that appears to have stimulant and hallucinogenic effects. It has been found mostly as a powder but also in tablets and capsules, and is commercially available on the internet and from 'head shops', usually marketed as 'research chemical'. It has also been detected in samples of a 'legal high' product called 'Benzo Fury', and in tablets resembling ecstasy.
A risk assessment carried out by the Scientific Committee of the Lisbon-based European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) showed that 5-IT can have serious adverse effects, such as tachycardia and hyperthermia, and may also cause mydriasis, agitation and tremor. 5-IT has no established medical value or other known legitimate purpose. It is a controlled substance in at least seven EU countries (Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Sweden) and in Norway.
The Commission's proposal follows a procedure for risk-assessment and control of new psychoactive substances set up by Council Decision 2005/387/JHA. The Council asked for the risk assessment of 5-IT on 22 January 2013.
In 2010, the Commission proposed and achieved an EU-wide ban on the ecstasy-like drug mephedrone (MEMO/10/646) and in early 2013 on the amphetamine-like drug 4-MA (IP/13/75). On 25 October 2011, the European Commission announced an overhaul of the EU rules on new psychoactive substances, which imitate the effects of dangerous drugs like ecstasy or cocaine causing growing concerns across Europe (IP/11/1236). A legislative proposal is expected during 2013.
The EU identified a record number of 73 such substances in 2012, up from 24 in 2009. They are increasingly available over the internet and have rapidly spread in many Member States, which face difficulties in preventing their sale.
According to a Eurobarometer survey in 2011, new substances that imitate the effects of illicit drugs are increasingly popular with 5% of young Europeans saying they have used them. The figures are the highest in Ireland (16%), followed by Poland (9%), Latvia (9%), the UK (8%) and Luxembourg (7%). The Eurobarometer revealed that across all 27 EU Member States, a large majority of 15 to 24 year-olds are in favour of banning these substances.
For more information
European Commission – Drug control policy:
Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:
Follow the Vice-President on Twitter: @VivianeRedingEU