New Psychoactive Substances: Challenges for Law Enforcement Agencies and the Law

Kalliroi Ziavrou
Content Type
Working Paper
George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies
New psychoactive substances (NPS) present a new global phenomenon in the drug market. This phenomenon is characterized by the emergence of a significant number of new substances every year that are not controlled under international drug control conventions, which means that their trafficking is legal. These substances are designed to mimic traditional illicit drugs and may cause severe adverse health effects.Over the last few years, the unprecedented rate of NPS proliferation has resulted in significant risk to public health; the numbers of people who become sick or addicted as well as the number of fatalities are consistently growing at an alarming pace. With the aid of the internet, new psychoactive substances are spreading at such a rapid rate that law enforcement agencies cannot respond quickly enough when it comes to identifying and regulating these substances. This paper will address the NPS phenomenon, presenting why the issue is generating increased interest worldwide and how it has provoked new challenges for law enforcement agencies (LEA) and policymakers. Beginning with a presentation of the current NPS crisis, this paper will demonstrate how illicit networks have managed to flood the drug market with NPS and examine the emerging issues for the involved communities and countries, legislative and judicial communities, and populations worldwide. Finally, it will discuss current governmental responses and containment measures and offer suggestions on how to counter the challenge using a holistic approach.
Law Enforcement, Internet, Drugs, Public Health
Political Geography
Global Focus