AUTHORITIES are taking a closer look at the sale of herbal drug alternatives through Cyprus-based Internet websites, police said yesterday.
At least one of two websites makes these herbal incense mixtures available in Cyprus with names such as Skunk – a clear reference to the illegal potent strain of cannabis.
These are part of a reportedly growing market of so-called “legal highs”, some of which are banned in several countries but not in Cyprus.
Police however want to get a hold of a sample to test it and determine the ingredients, Drug Law Enforcement Unit Commander Philipos Vrontos told the Cyprus Mail.
The website says Skunk is “an aromatic herbal blend” that releases a sweet fruity aroma when burned.
A legal highs UK-based website is not so modest, advertising Skunk as “by far the strongest MJ alternative available.”
One gram costs €25 in Cyprus while 3.5 grams cost €40.
The listed contact number did not immediately respond.
The website warns people not to use Skunk if they suffer from an adverse heart condition. People who have been diagnosed with a medical condition or are taking medicines should consult their doctor first.
A second website advertises Spice Spirit, banned in several countries, as an exotic blend that releases a rich aroma when burned and is not for human consumption.
Some experts say Spice contains a synthetic ingredient – JWH-018 -- that mimics the effects of cannabis.
THC Pharma, a specialist pharmaceutical laboratory commissioned by municipal authorities in the German city of Frankfurt, reportedly found varying quantities of JWH-018 in packages of Spice.
JWH-018 has now been banned in at least four EU countries – Germany, Austria, Netherlands and Switzerland.
The proprietor of this website, who requested anonymity, said he did not sell his products in Cyprus despite being contacted by several people.
“I don’t sell in Cyprus to have peace and quiet,” he told the Cyprus Mail.
Another product on this website that is banned in numerous European countries is Salvia. It is used “as part of spiritual ceremonies and traditional healing” and “has become a powerful tool for soul searching and exploration of consciousness.”
According to the Internet, Salvia Divinorum is a plant used for its psychoactive effects: “Given the right dose, individual, set and setting, it produces a unique state of divine inebriation.”
Possession and sale of Salvia has been banned in various countries including Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Italy and Sweden. A person needs a doctor’s prescription to use it in Estonia, Finland, Iceland and Norway while Spain and Russia also ban its sale.
By George Psyllides