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2014年7月30日 (水)

危険ドラッグ 摘発の徹底で流通を阻止せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Distribution of dangerous drugs must be stemmed by thorough detection
危険ドラッグ 摘発の徹底で流通を阻止せよ

The control of illegal drugs must be tightened further, by seizing this occasion of the reclassification of the drugs.

“Quasi-legal drugs,” whose abusers have caused a succession of incidents and accidents recently, have been renamed “dangerous drugs.”

The designation “quasi-legal” may encourage people to casually use the drugs because they think they are not breaking the law. Based on this concern, the National Police Agency and the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry publicly solicited suggestions for a new designation for the drugs.

We can understand that the government intended to emphasize the danger of taking these drugs. But doubt remains as to whether the new name can sufficiently convey the message that the drugs may contain illegal substances. The government needs to make both the danger and the illegality of taking these drugs widely known.

An estimated 400,000 people around the country have used these dangerous drugs.

When the health ministry investigated these cases, more than 40 percent of the users showed symptoms of hallucinations and delusions, whereas similar symptoms were seen among 30 percent of the stimulant drug users investigated. And nearly 60 percent of abusers of dangerous drugs also showed signs of dependency.

It is apparent that these dangerous drugs are extremely harmful to the body. There has been a sharp rise in the number of cases in which people with acute poisoning after taking the drugs were taken to hospitals by ambulance.

It is reasonable that the government has compiled emergency measures to prevent the spread of these dangerous drugs.

The central pillars of the measures include cooperation between police and regional welfare bureaus in making general, on-site investigations into sales outlets of these drugs, said to be operating at about 250 spots in the nation. To correct the situation in which people can obtain dangerous drugs easily, it is essential to tighten control on sales outlets.

Control of sales crucial

Based on the lesson that the arrests of sellers of dangerous drugs were usually one step behind the problem, the government, in the emergency measures, is authorized to control those dangerous drugs as “unapproved drug products,” sales of which are banned by the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law, even before they are defined as designated illegal drugs.

With regard to those products that are suspected to contain such designated drugs, the government can order, under the measures, the sellers of the products to analyze the drug’s components and suspend sales until the analysis results become known. Violators of the order will be punished.

We hope the government will reinforce its surveillance of those business operators who are shifting their sales method to mobile sales from vehicles and orders via the Internet.

It is also important to grasp the real state of affairs of illegal manufacturing of drugs and their sales channels. Factories manufacturing such drugs have been discovered in Okinawa and Ishikawa prefectures. Substances used for the drugs are suspected to have been imported from China. Strengthening the checking systems at customs offices will be necessary to prevent such substances from being brought into Japan.

Some local governments are regulating, with their own ordinances, drugs that are not defined as illegal under the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law but may cause harm to the body.

The Wakayama prefectural government has made such drugs subject to monitoring and control even if they are labeled as incense or aroma products and makes it mandatory for the sales outlet to notify the prefectural government of their sales. The Osaka prefectural government has included in its ordinance a provision authorizing an on-site investigation of sales shops by police officers. The Tokyo metropolitan government also plans to revise its ordinance to establish a similar provision.

Local governments should assume a large role in supplementing the efforts made by the central government.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 29, 2014)


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