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Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS’s)

Written by: Alan Baker 6th September, 2018

Bericon is being increasingly asked to review the above information and offer an assessment of whether an individual’s suggested passive exposure to an NPS may have led to them failing an MDT for a given substance or its metabolite.

We are able to prepare reports which offers comment on the above scenario and, given the scarcity of reliable, published scientific data on this subject, many reports offer help to the individual they are in front of a Prison Adjudication Panel.

Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPSs) also known as “designer drugs”, “herbal highs”, “research chemicals” and “legal highs” comprise an ever-increasing number of chemical, pharmaceutical and herbal drugs often advertised as “legal” and “safer” alternatives to internationally controlled drugs.

NPS’s may share with these latter illicit substances common ways of consumption e.g. inhalation, ingestion, injection together with pharmacological properties but they are often more powerful and potentially harmful given that many of their chemical constituents have not been properly tested.

Whilst the use of controlled drugs generally seems to have stabilised over the past decades the market for NSPs has significantly grown representing an unprecedented challenge to police forces, the justice system and healthcare agencies.

Europe has seen the emergence of a large number of NPS. By July 2017, 702 of the global total of 739 NPS had been reported in Europe. The use of synthetic cannabinoids by inmates has been associated with prison violence and adverse health effects. In 2015, a report on the UK, this type of substance was linked to destabilising effects in prisons, exacerbating issues of bullying, self-harm and illness.

Synthetic cannabinoids were first detected in Europe in 2008 and the total number is now at least 134 and consequently synthetic cannabinoids are the largest group of substances monitored by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. This reflects the overall demand for cannabis and the rapid pace by which manufactures can produce and supply new cannabinoids to circumvent legislation.