Web opens up fresh drug market in Europe

By chillinwill · Nov 6, 2009 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    A new front is opening in the war on drugs, with the internet emerging as an option to buy a plethora of hallucinogenics and synthetic drugs, according to the EU's drugs watchdog, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

    The availability of everything from magic mushrooms to 'fashionable' synthetic drugs and their "aggressive marketing and intentional mislabelling" are complicating the fight against drug abuse in Europe, warns the Lisbon-based agency in its annual report.

    The findings by the EMCDDA show that Europe is also losing the fight against hard drugs. Over five million people in the EU and Norway are believed to have used cocaine and heroine in the past year alone.

    With a random search on Google for magic mushroom retailers producing half a million entries, it is little wonder than the agency is concerned. Julian Vincente of the EMCDDA says the internet greatly complicates detection and control as illegal substances are often packaged up as legal products.

    "This is an area that's changing very quickly. For instance, there are herbal mixtures containing synthetic cannabis [that is five times more powerful than natural cannabis]. These substances are in a grey legal area, so you can't have the same quality control as with medicines."

    According to the study, the synthetic cannabis substitute Spice was offered by nearly half of the 115 online drug retailers surveyed in 2009.

    Cracking down on the traffickers themselves is also harder, as the sellers often operate from abroad, says Floor van Bakkum from the Dutch addiction agency, Jellinek Prevention. "So national authorities have to use cross-border crime laws, which is very complicated," she says. But she isn't convinced the online market will take off, pointing to the risks it poses for both sellers and buyers.

    "If you buy online, you have to send an email and you have to get it through the post, and most people won't be happy getting illegal substances by mail as they're afraid the government would sniff it out and they'd get into trouble. So I don't think there's a big market for illegal substances online," Ms van Bakkum told Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

    Ms van Bakkum also says that getting hold of illegal drugs is still hard on the web, with the exception of magic mushrooms.

    Global traffickers
    The online development, though, is part of a bigger trend suggesting that drug traffickers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, says EMCDDA.

    "The traffickers are always one step ahead of what we're doing. They have more information, they are working more closely together and they have more global networks," says Wolfgang Goetz, the EU drugs watchdog's director.

    "Cocaine and cannabis are now being seized together, meaning that South American traffickers are working together with North African traffickers. So we have to step up our monitoring."

    Cocaine and heroin are still very popular in Europe, especially in Western European countries like Spain, Denmark and Britain. "There is little to suggest any improvement regarding cocaine and heroin use in Europe, the two substances that remain at the heart of Europe's drugs problem," the report says.

    The trends often reflect the fashionability of a certain drug, rather than its legal status, adds Julian Vincente. Although over 20 million Europeans are thought to have used cannabis in the past year, the drug's popularity has fallen in the Netherlands, where it is legally available in coffee shops.

    "Cannabis is less fashionable now. But cocaine is popular, it's available and it's linked to glamour and nightlife."

    By Vanessa Mock
    November 6, 2009
    Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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  1. Abrad
    Did anyone notice the names they have for the mushrooms on sale in the photo?
    Psilocyce Equesescans? Psilocybe Columbinescans? WTF???
    They're all just cubensis strains. If I walked into a shop and saw that I'd laugh in their faces and promptly walk back out
  2. yonez
    yeah the latin does throw me off aswell. i'll just stick to growing my own :p
  3. g666d
    no, but i did notice that our female champions (heroines, if you will) are for some reason being used by EU coke-heads and those damn norwegians.
  4. Terrapinzflyer
    Britain is European capital for online “legal highs” synthetic drug trade

    Brussels, Nov. 6 (ANI): Britain has emerged as the European capital for online synthetic drug trading, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) has warned.

    Britain-based websites account for 42 percent trade of “legal highs” or “synthetic cannabinoid’s” in Europe, providing safe havens to the suppliers of “Spice”, “Smoke” or “Sense” and other controversial products.

    The dangers of legal highs were highlighted following the death of Hester Stewart, 21, after taking the legal party drug GBL.

    Following that, the British Home Office announced plans to criminalize people taking both GBL and Spice.

    “Attempts to circumvent drug controls by marketing unregulated substances are not new,” The Telegraph quoted Wolfgang Goetz, the director of the EU drugs agency, as saying.

    “If Spice is a taste of things to come, Europe will need to ensure that its responses are adequate to tackle this growing challenge,” he added. (ANI)


    the EU reports have been uploaded to the file archives:
    EU Annual Report on Drugs

    EU Drug Agency Press Release covering RC's, monitoring the internet, ecstasy, etc

    Highlights from the report

    Press release- contains links to country by country reports, stats and graphs, reitox national reports, and more

    Msg From Director on report. RC's feature prominently in his message
  5. Sippin40oz
    Lol where did they come up with that figure from?! Sounds like normal media hysteria to me.....
  6. podge
    Its just the strain names in Dutch i think. It must be an old photo too because shrooms are no longer available over the counter in the Netherlands, only truffles.
  7. Abrad
    They are Cubensis strains. The name of the Cubensis species of mushrooms is universally accepted,there are no Dutch, Chinese, Thai, Irish, or Basque translations. The correct way of presenting it would be Psilocybe Cubensis var. Columbian or similar..
  8. podge
    Indeed they are.

    I think you need to keep in mind they were being sold in smart shops mainly to tourists, average joe doesnt know what cubensis or even psilocybin is so labeling things according to their scientific terms would be bad marketing - not saying its right, but it is understandable. If they are being sold in the Netherlands it makes sense to have both Dutch and English (for tourists) text.

    Back when they were being sold in the Ireland i know they had the correct terms, but this was for headshop self preservation, the "for botanical research only" label wasnt in the interest of scientific integrity unfortunately.
  9. Abrad
    I still maintain that the smartshop should refrain from making up silly names regardless of their target market. I have been to the Netherlands many times before mushrooms were banned and have indeed been in many smartshops but never saw anything of the sort.
  10. Alfa
    Because panaeolus cyanescens comes from Hawaii, it was dubbed Hawaiian mushrooms. The same goes for psilocybe cubensis, which comes from Mexico and was dubbed Mexican. Botanical names where normally listed as well.

    It seemed to have spiralled from there and now mushrooms are illegal in the Netherlands, truffles are getting all kinds of bizarre names.
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