HEALTH workers are warning drug users about a new stimulant drug that has hit the streets.
Called 2C-B, the drug is synthetic, or man-made, and is reportedly being sold to buyers as Ecstasy, a traditionally popular party pill.
The warning comes after it emerged that a fairly large consignment of 2C-B, estimated to have a street value in the region of €13,000, was seized by gardaí in Co Kerry.
The discovery — thought to be the first official report of the drug in the country — has prompted drug health workers to issue warnings about the risks to potential users.
“I haven’t come across it in Ireland before,” said Tim Bingham of the Irish Needle Exchange Forum (INEF), a harm reduction and drug awareness group.
“It is important to note that 2C-B is a synthetic drug.
“This drug is produced solely in illegal labs and has no known medical use. It is used to get high and is very similar in chemical make-up to amphetamines.”
He said there were reports that 2C-B was being sold as Ecstasy to unsuspecting buyers.
“The quality of the ecstasy, the MDMA, isn’t there anymore, hence the likes of 2C-B,” said Mr Bingham.
“It’s being reported some of the 2C-B substances are being sold as Ecstasy by dealers, which may be attractive to individuals, especially with the holiday period only a few weeks away.”
He said there was a sister drug to 2C-B, called 2C-E, which is “coming out”. He said it was quite popular in the United States where he said it was reportedly linked with four deaths.
These drugs are among a dizzying array of synthetic drugs that have been manufactured in recent years, which mimic the effects of illegal drugs, such as cocaine, Ecstasy, amphetamine and cannabis.
“The problem with these substances is that we don’t know what’s in them, the effects they have,” said Mr Bingham.
“We have no past experience, no quality control, one tablet is different from another.”
While sets of laws passed last year effectively closed down the sale of legal highs in head shops in Ireland, the trade has moved online and into the illegal drugs market.
“You can still buy head shops drugs from UK-based websites. An Post can’t scan every package coming into the country,” said Mr Bingham.
The Irish Examiner reported earlier this month that Customs had seized 34kgs of banned head shop drugs last year, mainly in the post, following the introduction of the new laws.
We also reported that Irish research showed that people were still presenting to hospitals with medical and psychiatric problems from banned head shop drugs.
A recent study in Britain found that the labels of legal highs sold over the internet were misleading.
“It is clear that consumers are buying products that they think contain specific substances, but that in reality the labels are unreliable indicators of the actual contents,” said Dr Mark Baron, author of the research.
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