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Parliamentary questions
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9 August 2011
Question for written answer E-007721/2011
to the Commission
Rule 117
Salvatore Iacolino (PPE) and Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE)

 Subject: Legal psychoactive substances (‘legal highs’) contained in ‘bath salts’
 Answer in writing 

There has recently been an expansion of a thriving market in substances that are considered to be legal but are actually hiding the sale of narcotics.

Two substances are being sold on the Internet as common bath salts, but in actual fact they are mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), namely two narcotic drugs. Their effects are similar to those of ecstasy and cocaine.

These substances have already been available in Europe for several years and some Member States, such as Italy and the United Kingdom, have declared them illegal.

In the United States, however, they appear to be unstoppable: from January to June this year, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, 3 470 cases of poisoning were linked to these ‘bath salts’ — ten times more than the cases recorded over the same period in 2010. Even the bans introduced in several US states are easily circumvented — all it takes is for just one molecule to be replaced in the illegal salts to make them legal again.

There is, unfortunately, a strong risk that this trend, like so many others before it, might very shortly reach Europe from the United States.

Can the Commission therefore answer the following questions:

1. Does it have any data on the use of these substances in the Member States?
2. Has it already taken any measures to counter the phenomenon in question?
3. Will it take any preventive action before these substances become as widely used in Europe as they are in the U.S.?

Original language of question: ITOJ C 146 E, 24/05/2012
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