Decrees on new psychoactive substances supplemented to prohibit and control more substances
On 12 November, the Government amended both the decree on narcotic substances, preparations and plants (Narcotics Decree) and the decree on psychoactive substances prohibited on the consumer market. The decrees will enter into force on 21 December 2020.
Control of new psychoactive substances is important — they spread quickly online
A total of 32 new substances that are used for intoxicating purposes will be added to the list of psychoactive substances prohibited on the consumer market in Finland. These substances are available in Europe particularly for recreational use. They are not medicines or narcotics and, as far as is known, they do not have any industrial purposes either.
The substances were identified by the Finnish Medicines Agency (Fimea) in cooperation with the Police and Customs, and they have also been reported to the EU Early Warning System (EWS).
Using new psychoactive substances can be harmful to health and have adverse effects on mental health and social functioning. While prohibiting these substances on the consumer market does not stop their use, it can prevent the spread and recreational use of new psychoactive substances.
The prohibition of these substances may slow down and even prevent their spread to new user groups and young people in particular. It will also enable more efficient control.
Because new psychoactive substances are marketed online, there is a global market for them. It is important to identify such substances as early as possible and to bring them under control. This makes it impossible to circumvent legislation by making tiny changes at the molecular level.
Two new synthetic opioids classified as narcotics
The Narcotics Decree will, for the first time, classify brorphine and etazene as narcotics at the national level. They are synthetic opioids that resemble morphine and fentanyl.
The most harmful effect of their misuse is a life-threatening respiratory depression caused by an overdose. It is impossible to know the content or purity of the brorphine and etazene products on the market. They are even sold as other products or substances. Such products involve a high risk of severe and even accidental poisoning.
In the same context, eight substances that were previously classified as psychoactive substances prohibited on the consumer market will be classified as actual narcotics on the basis of the classification made by the UN Commission on Narcotics Drugs in March 2020. These substances are DOC, AB-FUBINACA, 5F-AMB-PINACA, 5F-MDMB-PICA, 4F-MDMB-BINACA, 4-CMC, N-ethylhexedrone and alpha-PHP.
Of these, DOC is a hallucinogen similar to LSD and DOM, which are both classified as hallucinogenic drugs internationally. AB-FUBINACA, 5F-AMB-PINACA, 5F-MDMB-PICA and 4F-MDMB-BINACA are synthetic cannabinoids with effects similar to those of cannabis. Synthetic cannabinoids are more potent than cannabis, and their accurate dosing can be difficult as they are available as pure powders and herbal blends. 4-CMC, N-ethylhexedrone and alpha-PHP are stimulants that are associated with risks and dependence potential similar to those of substances such as ecstasy, amphetamine and methamphetamine, which are already classified as stimulants.
In addition, two substances that were previously classified as narcotics nationally — flualprazolam and etizolam — will be classified as narcotics and placed under international control. These substances are benzodiazepine derivatives.
Benzodiazepines have a paralysing effect on the nervous system, which can threaten the user’s life. This risk increases if the person simultaneously uses both benzodiazepines and alcohol or psychoactive medicines.
These substances do not have any medical purposes in Finland.
Elina Kotovirta, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 2951 63713 [email protected]
- Government decree on narcotic substances, preparations and plants (543/2008, Finlex, available in Finnish and Swedish)
- Government decree on psychoactive substances prohibited on the consumer market (1130/2014, Finlex, available in Finnish and Swedish)
- Drug policy
- List of 32 new substances prohibited on the consumer market (Fimea)
- European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA)