EU moves to ban powerful synthetic cannabis drug

Synthetic cannabis drug has been linked to deaths.

The EU is moving to ban an extremely powerful new synthetic cannabis drug which has been linked to 29 deaths across Europe.

An expert analysis by the EU drugs agency said the substance was 10 times more powerful than a common synthetic cannabinoid that is currently banned.

The European Commission yesterday announced it was proposing to ban MDMB-CHMICA, also known as ‘Black Mamba’, on foot of a risk assessment by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

Ireland is one of 13 EU member states that does not have the substance under legal control.

The Department of Health told the Irish Examiner that work was at an “advanced stage” to control the drug, along with other substances.

Synthetic cannabis has previously been linked to tragedies here, with a product known as ‘Clockwork Orange’ linked to at least two deaths in the Cavan/Monaghan area last year.

The report by the EMCDDA said ‘Black Mamba’ had been associated with 42 reported acute intoxications in seven member states in 2014 and 2015, none in Ireland.

Some 25 cases were analytically confirmed through biological samples.

Some 10 of these involved coma and unconsciousness, seven reported heart problems, while two involved seizures. In four cases the patients were aggressive or severely disturbed.

Ssome 29 deaths were associated with the drug. Data was secured in 18 cases and in 13 of those the victim was found comatose or dead.

The report said the drug is extremely powerful in tiny quantities, in tens of milligrams. It said this meant that a seizure of 1kg could produce 1m doses.

It said more than 120kg of MDMB-CHMICA were seized in the EU last year, enough to make 120m doses.

The report said that the quantities of the chemical, which is often sprayed into herbal mixtures, can vary considerably in packages, posing risks of toxic strengths.

“The high potency of MDMB-CHMICA and the highly variable amounts of the substances in ‘legal high’ products constitute a high risk of acute toxicity,” it said.

It said there were indications of a “significant internet trade” in the drug.

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