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New substances added to Finland’s narcotics list

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
19.10.2017 13.41
Press release

Five new psychoactive substances will be added to Finland’s list of narcotics: 4-methylethcathinone (4-MEC), ethylone, pentedrone, 5F-AKB-48 (5F-APINACA), and 5FUR-144 (XLR-11). The production, import, storage, sale, handing over as well as possession and use of these substances will be prohibited and regarded as punishable acts. There will be zero tolerance for using the substances while driving. The updated Narcotics Decree will enter into force on 13 November 2017. The Decree is amended because the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs classified the five substances as narcotics in March.

Three of the new narcotics are synthetic cathinones: 4-methylethcathinone (also known as 4-MEC), ethylone and pentedrone. They are related to active ingredients in the khat drug. One of the best known synthetic cathinone is MDPV, which is already classified as a narcotic. The two other narcotics included in the list, 5F-AKB-48 (also known as 5F-APINACA) and 5FUR-144 (also known as XLR-11), are synthetic cannabinoids. They resemble cannabis in their reactions in the body, but their use involves additional risks. They may be significantly stronger than cannabis, and measuring an accurate dose may be difficult.

The production, import, storage, sale and handing over of these substances have already been prohibited in Finland based on the Government decree on psychoactive substances prohibited on the consumer market. However, this ban does not extend to the possession and use of these substances. The amendment to the Narcotics Decree will change this.

Other amendments to the Narcotics Decree

Twelve new strong synthetic opioids will also be included in Finland’s list of narcotics. These are: 2-fluorofentanyl, 3-fluorofentalyn, 4-chloro-isobutyrfentanyl (4Cl-iBF), 4-fluoro-isobutyrfentanyl (4F-iBF), 3-phenylpropanoylfentanyl, benzodioxole fentanyl, benzoyl fentanyl, carfentanil, cyclopentyl fentanyl, cyclopropyl fentanyl, methoxyacetyl fentanyl, and tetramethylcyclopropane fentanyl. Their structure closely resembles that of fentanyl, which is a narcotic analgesic. Availability of new, uncontrolled fentanyl derivatives may tempt especially opioid misusers into experimentation or use.

Following a decision of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the Narcotics Decree is also amended by transferring five substances to another annex, as these will now be monitored in Finland also under the UN Conventions on Narcotic Drugs. Two of these five substances are synthetic opioids (U-47700 and butyrfentanyl), two resemble amphetamine (ethylphenidate and methiopropamine, also known as MPA), and one is a synthetic cannabinoid (MDMB-CHMICA).

Stopping the spread of new psychoactive substances among young people

The Government proposes to prohibit new psychoactive substances (NPS) to prevent their recreational use and to enable more efficient drug control. NPS can be harmful to health and have adverse effects on mental health and social functioning. While banning a substance does not stop its use completely, it can prevent the spread and recreational use of NPS. Banning NPS may slow down and even prevent their spread to new user groups and young people in particular. It will also enable more efficient drug control.

Two decrees govern the control of new psychoactive substances: the Government decree on psychoactive substances prohibited on the consumer market and the Government Decree on narcotic substances, preparations and plants (Narcotics Decree).


Elina Kotovirta, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 2951 63713, [email protected]

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