脱法ドラッグ 規制強化で若者への蔓延防げ

The Yomiuri Shimbun December 3, 2013
Apply new law effectively to curb use of quasi-legal drugs by young people
脱法ドラッグ 規制強化で若者への蔓延防げ(12月2日付・読売社説)

The use of so-called quasi-legal drugs must be checked from spreading further among young people.

A bill to revise the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law designed to ban the possession, use and purchase of these hazardous substances has passed through the House of Representatives.

The bill provides for imprisonment of up to three years or a fine of up to ¥3 million for violations. It should be passed into law as soon as possible so its provisions can be enforced.

Quasi-legal drugs are not subject to laws and regulations, despite the fact that people who use them hallucinate or develop other symptoms similar to those caused by narcotics or stimulant drugs.

The drugs can cause serious health problems such as disturbed consciousness and breathing difficulty. There have been a spate of fatal cases. Last year, 209 people were taken to the hospital by ambulance in Tokyo alone after using the drugs, a marked increase from the 11 such cases in the previous year.

In some cases, drivers who had used the drugs struck and killed pedestrians. In one case, a man who had used them intruded into the premises of a primary school and chased students around. The use of the drugs should be considered a threat to public safety.

Also worrisome is the fact that the use of such substances has spread among minors.

According to a survey of about 50,000 middle school students, 120 said they have taken quasi-legal drugs. Sixty percent of the users said they also took stimulant drugs.

This shows quasi-legal drugs may be “gateway drugs,” as people who casually take them face a risk of eventually using narcotics and stimulant drugs.

Measures urgently needed

To prevent young people from being trapped in a vicious circle of drug abuse and addiction, measures must be urgently taken.

These substances are sold almost openly under such names of “legal herbs” and “legal aroma” in entertainment areas and on the Internet. Many of them can be bought for several thousand yen.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry categorizes quasi-legal drugs as “designated items” based on the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law. Currently, however, the drugs are regulated only for their production, import and sales.

Probably behind the abuse of such substances is the ease of their use, which so far has not been legally penalized. Punishing both sellers and users is appropriate. Penalties under the revised law are nearly as severe as those for violations of the Stimulant Drugs Control Law and the Narcotics Control Law.

It is important to properly teach young people, both at home and at school, the danger and illegality of quasi-legal drugs.

Some illegal substances whose chemical structures have been slightly changed to avoid being categorized as illicit drugs have been put on the market one after another, frustrating authorities.

This spring, the ministry imposed a comprehensive ban on substances that do not have the exact chemical structures as substances subject to punishment but share their primary components. The ban makes it possible for narcotics officers to apprehend violators.

If the revised bill is passed into law, the overall framework of regulations will have been changed to make it possible for related measures to be implemented steadily.

The reinforcement of regulation is also considered an effective way to contain crime syndicates, which use drug trafficking as a source of funds.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 2, 2013)
(2013年12月2日02時06分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2013-12-04 07:56 | 英字新聞

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