2018 Guidelines on Monitoring of on-line supply of new psychoactive substances in Central Asia

It can be observed that in the past 20 years there has been significant growth in the number, type, and availability of new psychoactive substances (NPS). NPS are generally offered as legal alternatives to controlled drugs (“legal highs”), “research chemicals”, performance-enhancing dietary supplements, and imitations of illicit drugs, or may appear as admixtures to well-known illicit drugs (EMCDDA, 2015). A specific group of NPS is that of pharmaceuticals which are diverted by patients or their relatives to the black market or are imported illegally. NPS of synthetic origin, also referred to as “new synthetic drugs”, are rarely manufactured in Europe. They are often imported from China and India, in particular, and they are only processed and packaged in Europe. These NPS, while often marketed as “legal” alternatives to traditionally used drugs, may inadvertently pose a public health risk (LSS et al., 2014).

The internet and new technologies have played a pivotal role in the development of the market for NPS. The virtual environment offers almost unlimited possibilities for the marketing and distribution of new drugs. In order to describe the diversity of the online drug market and to get a better understanding of how this affects the availability of NPS, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) has developed the methodology of snapshots (EMCDDA, 2011; Evans-Brown, 2013). In recent years, however, anonymized internet networks that are hidden from standard browsers C “darknets” C are used to trade in both new and “traditional” psychoactive substances, as well as in other illegal commodities (Pompidou Group, 2013).

This report provides the results of an exercise focused on mapping the online availability of NPS through online shops targeting the population of the Central Asian countries. The exercise was performed within the C2 CADAP 6 regional seminar organized in Almaty from 27-30 March 2017.