EMCDDA European Drug Report 2020 released – A quick roundup on Research Chemicals (NPS) in Europe.

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The EMCDDA (European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction) is the European Drug monitoring and harm prevention agency.

All EU member states, as well as Norway and Turkey cooperate here. The information collected is used for proposing the banning of substances, for new laws and regulations, as well as for providing Europol with intelligence. Finally, Europol and the DEA collaborate on their “war on drugs”.

It seems that the American DEA was currently focussing on researching possible health threats in context with Nootropics while the EMCDDA has specialized in monitoring drugs and Research Chemicals, they are doing so since 1995, for already 25 years now.

The European Drug report covers all kinds of drugs, harm reduction, trafficking, markets, developments, etc. – We, however, will only do a short roundup on Research Chemical related issues mentioned in the report.

The full report can be downloaded in English only, there is also a more compact version called “Key Issues” available in English and in 20 more languages, please see: www.emcdda.europa.eu/edr2020

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Mephedrone – still alive!?

In 2018, three labs producing Mephedrone (4-MMC) were detected in Europe (in Spain, in the Netherlands and in Poland).

Dr. Zee, however, the Israeli chemist credited for discovering Mephedrone already in 2004 (Neorganics), does not believe, that pre- and after-ban 4-MMC would be the same substance.

Indeed, the WHO / EMCDDA / UNDOC / DEA / Police / AndWahtsTheirName call every white powder that comes with a certain smell “Mephedrone” and are notoriously often wrong in classifying and describing substances. So is it still out there? Somewhere it will be, I am sure. But most Darknet-Dealers trying to sell it to you will – if ever – send you some cheap and disappointing substance instead.

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Grandpa might rather OD than you would.

Drug overdose is increasingly associated with an ageing population: Between 2012 and 2018 the number of drug overdose deaths among the 50-plus age group increased by 75 %, indicating that this problem is increasingly associated with older long-term users.

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The greedy RC Industry, a persistent problem. They just refuse to give up.

The pace at which new psychoactive substances are being introduced onto the market has stabilized in recent years. Nonetheless, more than 50 new psychoactive substances continue to be detected for the first time annually by the EU Early Warning System. Alongside this, each year about 400 previously reported new psychoactive substances are detected on the European market.

In 2019, the EMCDDA was monitoring around 790 Research Chemicals already. 53 of them being completely new substances detected only last year.

Drug Seizures

During 2018, law enforcement agencies from across Europe reported close to 64,800 seizures of RCs (new psychoactive substances) to the EU Early Warning System. In 2018, more than 5.6 tons of Research Chemicals (mostly in the form of powders) were reported to the EU Early Warning System, 4.4 tons of which by Member States. In addition, 4,212 litres of liquids and 1.6 million tablets and capsules were also found to contain new psychoactive substances.

Confiscated Research Chemical ranking 2018:

  1. Cathinones
  2. Cannabinoids
  3. Phenethylamines
  4. Opioids
  5. Tryptamines
  6. Benzodiazepines

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Opioids: Less Fentanyl, but new toxic substances emerging.

Since 2009, a total of 57 new synthetic opioids have been detected on Europe’s drug market – including 8 reported for the first time in 2019. In contrast to recent years, only 2 of these opioids were fentanyl derivatives.

The remaining 6 opioids (2-fluoro-viminol, AP-237, 2-Methyl-AP-237, Piperidylthiambutene, Furanyl-UF-17 and Isotonitazene) are all chemically different from Fentanyl, despite posing similar concerns in respect to their toxicity.

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Research Chemicals – a niche?

The EMCDDA estimates that Research Chemicals (NPS) would not be popular in Europe. They estimate that among young adults (aged 15-34), prevalence of use of these substances would range from zero in Norway to 1.9 % in Poland.

Greetings to our 116 Norwegian RC SCENE friends:
Hilsen til dere vikinger!


Only 5% of drug samples sent or brought in for testing last year were Research Chemicals.

The EMCDDA admits, that these figures basically say nothing at all. The market for Research Chemicals might indeed make about 5% of drugs being traded, I read somewhere else. No matter if 2% in Poland or estimated 5% EU-wide, the Research Chemicals industry still is a million-dollar-business, without a doubt – although being an unusual one: The marketing tricks the industry works with, make customers spend a fortune on often worthless compounds, real cocaine for sure is cheaper than any of its useless RC analogues and – behold – it even works.

Personally, I am not surprised at all, that established drugs sell a lot better. Researchers and Psychonauts seem to be a breed of their own, people with a lot of money, with a tendency to buying overpriced trash and seemingly being blind for anything like risk assessment…

Speaking of: More and more exotic substances have become available, some of them for sure are, some might be health risks.

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So much for Research Chemicals, but what is going on in the world of classic dugs?

  • Cocaine and Heroin are on the rise.
  • MDMA pills keep being highly dosed and thus remain a health threat.
  • During the COVID Pandemic, street dealers moved from their corners to the Darknet.
  • Rare and hardly controlled compounds like GHB, Lysergamides, Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas), Ketamine-derivatives and Designer-Benzodiazepines appear to be a growing problem.
  • The fact, that the drugs industry started selling new opioids which are not yet scheduled in most countries, is a warn sign and will sure lead to trying new paths in drugs legislation. The EMCDDA & Europol are already working on a new plan that should be achieved by 2025.

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