What was the market share of new psychoactive substances in past years?
During 2010–2014 new psychoactive substances completely restructured the Hungarian drug market. Following the large-scale increase in the amount of mephedrone available in the summer of 2010, the proportion of the new psychoactive substances as compared to the classical drugs – substances listed in the schedules of the UN Drug Conventions – rose continuously. In 2014 the new psychoactive substances constituted nearly 60% of all police seizures. The continuous increasing trend of seizures turned back in 2015, the seizures of new psychoactive substances fell back to the level of the classical drugs.
Which new psychoactive substances characterised the Hungarian drugs market in the past years?
As a result of the regulations continuously adapting to the market, the group of new synthetic substances distributed has been changing dynamically in recent years.
The share of two large groups of the new substances, cathinone derivatives and synthetic cannabinoids was the largest in the seizures. Cathinones are usually distributed in the form of powders. The most frequent active substances were: mephedrone in 2010, 4-MEC and MDPV in 2011, and pentedrone from 2012. During 2014 the proportion of alpha-PVP in the seizures rose significantly for a time, but by the end of the year it was pentedrone again that was the most characteristic substance. In 2015 besides pentedrone and alpha-PVP the substance called alpha-PHP appeared in seizures with a larger proportion typically in the period January-August.
Since autumn 2010 there has been a continuous rise in the seizures of plant material impregnated with synthetic cannabinoids. The number of seizures of the products known as ‘herbal’, ’bio weed’ or ’sage’ in 2014 was nearly double the number of seizures of herbal cannabis, however, a considerable relapse can be observed in 2015 in this case as well.
The range of active substances found in the products follow the changes in legislation dynamically, in individual periods characteristically 1–2 dominant active substances can be found on the market. After the individual active substances had become regulated, usually within 1–3 months their occurrence dropped significantly in the period 2011-2014 and their places were taken over by new active substances that were not yet regulated. In 2015 the dynamics of these processes changed, as the scope of the substances that can be traded without any criminal consequences was narrowed drastically by the expansion of the generic regulation. The place of the ADB-FUBINACA which was legal until then and dominant in seizures was overtaken by AMB-FUBINACA and 5F-AMB by the end of the year regardless that these substances have already been controlled since October 2014.
Were there any substances placed under control in Hungary in 2015?
2015 the schedule of new psychoactive substances changed: in total 9 compounds were added to the list. These are the following: bk-2-C-B; 25I-NBF; Mexedrone; TH-PVP; AB-FUBINACA; 5F-AB-PINACA; AB-PINACA; α-PVT; MDMB-CHMICA.
What are the control measures relevant to new psychoactive substances in Hungary?
In Hungary a new regulation of new psychoactive substances came into effect on the 3rd of April 2012, but since 2015 the schedule listing such substances was transferred to a separate Decree (55/2014). The new regulation is based on four regulatory actions:
- Act XCV of 2005 on medicinal products for human use and on the amendment of other laws regulating the pharmaceutical market (the amendment to the Act came into effect on the 1st of March 2012);
- Government Decree 66/2012 (IV.2.) on activities related to narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and new psychoactive substances, on scheduling of these substances and on modification of schedules (repealing Government Decree 142/2004 and Government Decision 1196/2009) (the Decree came into effect on the 3rd of April 2012)
- Ministry of Human Capacities Decree 55/2014. (XII. 30.) On substances or compound groups classified as new psychoactive substances and
- “Illegal Possession of New Psychoactive Substances” (Article 184, 184/A-D of Criminal Code (the new Criminal Code (Act C of 2012) came into effect on the 1st of July 2013).
Act XCV of 2005 provides the legal framework (§15/B-F) for the new regulation while Government Decree 66/2012 specifies the processes and appoints the responsible bodies for reporting new substances, rapid assessment, scheduling and risk assessment. The act creates the definition of „new psychoactive substance” (Act XCV of 2005 §1/37) which is: a compound or chemical compound group that currently appeared on the market; has no therapeutic value; affects the central nervous system so it has the ability to change mental state, behaviour or perception; therefore it can pose as serious a threat to public health as the substances listed on drug schedules; and therefore the Government scheduled it in a decree. The Ministry of Human Capacities Decree 55/2014 contains the schedule for new psychoactive substances that lists individual substances and compound groups (applying the generic approach).
According to the Act XCV of 2005 and the Government Decree 66/2012 if a substance is reported in a formal notification under Council Decision 2005/387/JHA or by a national body, it has to be assessed whether it should be scheduled under Decree 55/2014. The rapid assessment has to prove that no information available at national authorities or professional institutes
- suggests that the given substance has a medical use and
- rules out that it poses as serious a threat to public health as the substances listed on narcotic and psychotropic drug schedules.
A risk assessment shall be carried out in case of all substances listed individually on the schedule within one year of their scheduling. As a result of the risk assessment the substance is either transferred to the schedules of psychotropic substances (schedules of Act XXV of 1998) or to schedule D of the Government Decree 66/2012 (this schedule lists compounds that are transferred from the schedule of new psychoactive substances). If the risk assessment results with the decision ‘no sufficient data is available for the assessment’ the substance may remain on the schedule of new psychoactive substances for an additional year. In case the transfer to the other schedules is not possible as a result of the risk assessment, the substance shall remain on the schedule of new psychoactive substances. The placement of the compound must be reviewed in every two years, and in case further information allows, the substance is transferred to the schedule of psychotropic drugs. Risk assessment is not to be applied in case of compound groups which stay on the schedule as long as any substance that belongs to the given group fulfils the requirements of the rapid assessment. Every activity related to new psychoactive substances defined by regulatory actions might be carried out only with a valid license (obtained from the authority defined by the Act).
The new Btk. has been extended with a section entitled “Illegal Possession of New Psychoactive Substances” (Article 184, 184/A-D), which follows the structure of the previous articles, but regulates the area with more lenient punishments. The individual cases of the new regulation are essentially the same as those relating to illicit drugs, however, it does not include perpetration with a substantial quantity as aggravating circumstance. The lenient cases relate to perpetration with a small amount, which amount with respect to the total substance is 10 grams for each substance type. The punishable acts also include possession of new psychoactive substances if the amount exceeds the small amount.