Pubdate: Wed, 26 Jun 2013
Source: Sunstar Davao (Philippines)
Copyright: 2013 Sunstar
Note:  also listed for feedback


TODAY, June 26, is the International Day Against Drug Abuse and 
Illicit Trafficking. The day was designated as such by the United 
Nations (UN) General Assembly through Resolution 42/112 dated December 7, 1987.

In declaring such, "(T)he General Assembly recognized that despite 
continued and increased efforts by the international community, the 
world drug problem continues to constitute a serious threat to public 
health, the safety and well-being of humanity, in particular young 
people, and the national security and sovereignty of States, and that 
it undermines socio-economic and political stability and sustainable 

With Davao City Police Office's Operation Tokhang, the drive against 
drugs have been hogging the headlines for the past several months, 
those kinds of illegal drugs are thus taken care of. Awareness too is 
at an all-time high.

There is an alarming new drug problem, however, that the UN Office on 
Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is ringing warning bells for, especially 
because it is the youths who are being targeted. These are substances 
that are not under international control and are being sold openly, 
mostly through the internet.

These new psychoactive substances (NPS) is being marketed as legal 
highs, research chemicals, plant food, and bath salts; substances 
that have not been tested for human safety, which therefore can be 
far more dangerous than the traditional highs - from shabu and 
marijuana in our part of the world.

UNODC defines NPS as "substances of abuse, either in a pure form or a 
preparation, that are not controlled by the 1961 Single Convention on 
Narcotic Drugs or the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, but 
which may pose a public health threat." They're not really new, but 
are new in the market of abuse.

UNODC lists these as:

Synthetic cannabinoids - These substances produce effects similar to 
those of THC, the principal psychoactive component in cannabis.

Synthetic cannabinoids are often laced onto herbal products and sold 
as spice, K2, Kronic, etc.

Synthetic cathinones - These are analogues/derivatives of the 
internationally controlled substance cathinone, one of the active 
components of the khat plant. They generally have stimulant effects 
and include frequently reported NPS such as mephedrone and MDPV.

Ketamine - A human and veterinary anesthetic that acts as a stimulant 
at low doses and a hallucinogen at high doses. It is one of the most 
widespread NPS in Asia.

Phenethylamines - This group contains substances related to 
amphetamine and methamphetamine, and generally produces stimulant 
effects. However, modification of these compounds can lead to potent 

Piperazines - These substances are frequently sold as "ecstasy" due 
to their stimulant properties. The most commonly reported members of 
this group are benzylpiperazine (BZP) and mCPP.

Plant-based substances - This group includes plants with psychoactive 
properties. The most frequently reported are:

Kratom, a plant indigenous to South-East Asia that acts as a 
stimulant at low doses and sedative at high doses.

Salvia divinorum, a plant indigenous to Mexico with hallucinogenic effects.

Khat (Catha edulis), a plant native to the horn of Africa and the 
Arabian peninsula. The leaves of the plant are chewed, resulting in 
the release of the stimulants cathinone and cathine.

Other substances - Such as aminoindanes (stimulants), 
phencyclidine-type substances (hallucinogens) and tryptamines (hallucinogens).

It is alarming simply because they are stimulants and hallucinogens 
that are being sold off as something else - bath salts and 
aromatherapy included. As they are often called, they are "legal 
highs" and "plant food," which makes them enticing to this generation 
that puts a premium to the senses.

But considering how difficult it is to crack down on this, it is 
indeed upon us to make sure that these substances do not find their 
way to our homes and in the hands of our children. How? We just have 
to be extra vigilant, as well as aware of what these substances are 
so that we will not walk on blind to the fact that substances are 
already controlling our young ones.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom